Wednesday, July 6, 2022

A Dress of Violet Taffeta

It’s a pleasure to share with you today the recent release of author Tessa Arlen’s A DRESS OF VIOLET TAFFETA (Berkley Trade Paperback Original; July 5, 2022), a sumptuous novel based on the fascinating true story of La Belle Époque icon Lady Lucile Duff-Gordon.

Lucy shattered the boundaries of fashion with her magnificently sensual and striking designs. She launched her fashion empire in the late 1890s as a way to keep her and her five-year-old daughter financially afloat after she was abandoned by her husband.

In a time when women from good families were expected to look beautiful and be content with producing children and running their elegant houses, this woman triumphed in the competitive London world of dressmaking and became the Queen of Haute Couture.

Lady Lucile Duff-Gordon was a female fashion icon, trailblazer, and survivor of the Titanic, yet very little has been written about her life and work.

This is the second historical fiction novel from Tessa Arlen, whose debut in the genre, In Royal Service to the Queen, received rave reviews from BuzzFeed, People Magazine, Parade, and Woman’s World.


By Tessa Arlen
Fiction - Biographical
Berkley Trade Paperback Original
on sale July 5, 2022

The story: Lucy Duff Gordon knows she is talented. She sees color, light, and texture in ways few people can begin to imagine. But is the male-dominated world of haute couture, who would use her art for their own gain, ready for her?

When she is deserted by her wealthy husband, Lucy is left penniless with an aging mother and her five-year-old daughter to support. Desperate to survive, Lucy turns to her one true talent to make a living. As a little girl, the dresses she made for her dolls were the envy of her group of playmates. Now, she uses her creative designs and her remarkable eye for color to take her place in the fashion world—failure is not an option.

Then, on a frigid night in 1912, Lucy’s life changes once more, when she becomes one of 706 people to survive the sinking of the Titanic. She could never have imagined the effects the disaster would have on her fashion label Lucile, her marriage to her second husband, and her legacy. But no matter what life throws at her, Lucy will live on as a trailblazing and innovative fashion icon, never letting go of what she worked so hard to earn. This is her story.

Meet the Author: Tessa Arlen

Tessa Arlen is the author of the Woman of World War II Mysteries and the novel In Royal Service to the Queen.

Born in Singapore, the daughter of a British diplomat, she has lived in Egypt, Germany, the Persian Gulf, China, and India. She now lives with her husband in historic Santa Fe, where she gardens in summer and writes in winter.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. Isn't it fascinating to read stories based on true events? Does it make it want to Google Lady Lucile Duff-Gordon to learn more about her? It does me! 


  1. Always interesting when a story is based on a real person.

  2. And she survived the Titanic? Impressive.

  3. This sounds really interesting, Mason! I know almost nothing about her, and this is such an effective way to share her story. Thanks for posting about this.


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