Saskia Goldschmidt – The Vintage Queen 384 pages, 100,200 words, published in 2015 German rights sold to dtv
English sample translation available.
The Vintage Queen is the swirling life story of Koko, who collected old clothes in the sixties and seventies, turned them into vintage fashion, and lost everything at the peak of her career. It is also the story of duds and frazzle. About rag-and- bone men who turned into entrepreneurs, hippies turned into businessmen, charity became big business. And about ideals we used to uphold. During the roaring sixties, Koko travels through Europe looking for clothes, and wraps the merchants around her finger with her charm and sturdiness. She is successful and becomes a brand: Koko’s, known in Milan, Paris, and Berlin.
She had learned the tricks of the trade from her mother when she was just a little girl. Whenever her mother came home with yet another bad boyfriend, the silent Koko would retreat into her fantasy world, surrounded by doll’s clothing she made herself. By the time she turns sixteen she sees that the most beautiful second-hand dresses, evening gowns, and party clothes made from lace, velvet, and silk are being sold by the kilo at the market. What a waste, she thinks, and when she leaves school she starts her own business. She buys old clothes, makes small modifications, and sells them as vintage clothes. She has good taste and a keen eye for what people might like. Her stall at the market is turned into a boutique shop, which becomes the place to be for fashionistas, fashion journalists, and couturiers. But success in fashion is brittle and fleeting, and the competition is killing. Business can crumble, drift, or go up in smoke from one day to the next. Both fairytale and tragedy, and an unforgettable portrait of an enterprising woman.
‘Goldschmidt is a genuine storyteller. This is a fascinating story from start to finish. Goldschmidt’s strength is in her ability to bring her characters to life. Her best book so far.’ – Noordhollands Dagblad ****
‘Goldschmidt creates a colorful portrait of the roaring seventies and eighties. The Vintage Queen is a wannahave for every vintage fashionista.’ – de Volkskrant
‘The Vintage Queen is more than Koko’s vibrant life story: it is also a gripping portrait of the last decades and it shows how idealism becomes fierce business. A beautiful book.’ – Libelle
‘The tone is light and lively in direct, sparkling sentences. It is rare to hear someone tell so fervently about darts, seams, hems, buttonholes, tulle, lace, silk lining or wrinkled collars.’ – NRC Handelsblad
‘A compelling story with a tragic undertone about the second-hand clothing industry with precision and a sense of decor. Well-written and worldly.’ – De Telegraaf