Recently I have had the privilege of discovering the fabulous mystery writer Diane Vallere. She is the author of several fashionable mysteries which include The Costume Shop, Material Witness, Samantha Kidd, Mad For Mod and the Sylvia Stryker series.
Each of these series feature an amazingly stylish main character. All of these talented women who have a flare for what they do.
In the Costume Shop mysteries Margo Tamblyn, who was once a magician’s assistant, manages the Desquise The Limit Costume Shop. (Side note: I once worked at a costume/vintage shop too!)
The Material Witness series features dress designer Polyester Monroe who suddenly inherits a fabric store once owned by her aunt and uncle.
The Samantha Kidd series was Diane’s claim to fame when she introduced readers to spunky fashion buyer Samantha Kidd.
And in the Mad For Mod series Madison Night is the owner of an atomic age interior decorating business.
I asked Diane to share some time with us so that you can see how fabulous she is & why I adore her. Here is my interview with her.
What is your fashion background?
DV: I spent eight years managing shoe departments of first Macy’s and then Neiman Marcus, and then moved to Texas to enter the NM buyer training program. From there I worked in the corporate offices for fine apparel, designer lingerie and hosiery, and designer shoes. After a brief stint as assistant store manager for the historic downtown Dallas location, I shifted to the Last Call division where I oversaw the outlet division planning and creative campaigns, ultimately moving to California where I worked the front lines of fashion in the Beverly Hills store. Whew! I get tired just thinking over it all.
2. If you could have any designer create a complete wardrobe for you, who would you choose? (Can be living or otherwise)
DV: Emilio Pucci. That is not to discount other designers that I’ve loved, but there is something about the prints that Pucci created that illustrate how I feel on the inside—and isn’t that what fashion is all about? Though Chanel is a close second. And do you remember Patrick Kelly? Oh! And Bob Mackie! I could have an entire wardrobe that looked like a Mitzi Gaynor special? Yes, please.
3. If you could time travel, what time period would you like to experience?
DV: The mid-to-late sixties! I’m a fan of That Girl, and I would wear just about everything Marlo Thomas/Anne Marie wears on that show without changing a thing. I also own a 1967 Sears Catalog, and whenever I take a moment to flip through, I think if I had a time machine, I’d go straight to Sears.
4. Who is your style icon?
DV: This has always been a tough question for me, because I change my mind so much. One season I want to channel Gwen Stefani and the next year Audrey Hepburn. And sometimes emulating someone else’s style can lead to massive frustration (Audrey Hepburn did not have boobs or hips!).
One person whose style I am constantly impressed by is Anna Wintour. She sees every trend but has her own clear look. She never appears to be hiding behind her clothes or trying to use them to be loud or make a statement for her, but she doesn’t hide behind a wall of black like so many other people in the fashion industry.
These days I’m more impressed by people who have their own distinctive look and can translate that to any occasion than by people who are in the latest trends. The other day I saw a woman in a white T-shirt and jeans, and Burberry Nova Check belt, ballet flats, handbag, and scarf. Not a lot of people would wear that much of the same, recognizable print, but she looked GREAT.
5. Describe your style.
DV: Colorful, feminine, whimsical. I prefer dresses over pants and heels (though I can only go so high) over sneakers. Practicality sometimes overrides what I want to wear, which usually makes me cranky. I guess in a nutshell, I’m sort of a cross between sixties mod and eighties preppy. I think.
6. What stylish books/authors do you follow?
DV: My fiction tastes tend to run toward humorous mystery (Janet Evanovich, Gretchen Archer) and chicklit (love Sophie Kinsella and Meg Cabot), but I also enjoy non-fiction memoirs (especially Jen Lancaster), and I do love an inspirational biography or memoir by a fashion industry insider. I’ve read Jennifer Lopez TRUE LOVE, Ashley Graham A NEW MODEL, and everything written by Simon Doonan. I think there’s something fascinating in everyone’s stories and getting lost in someone else’s reality helps me invent different characters in my books.
7. Who is your favorite character from your books? Why?
DV: This is an unfair question! In all seriousness, because I love clothes and style so much, I do think through each character’s style so they can feel separate from each other. Samantha Kidd is the trendiest and probably most closely represents the way I like to mix and match everything from vintage to utilitarian to camo to designer. Madison Night gets to wear all the vintage I can find on eBay and in old fashion magazines. Polyester Monroe wears all black (how easy is that???), and Margo Tamblyn dresses in costumes. Sylvia Stryker wears a uniform on a space ship. Regardless of whether or not a publisher asks, I usually include the character’s style in a series proposal, because that allows me to get a handle on who they are.
What made you decide to write mysteries?
DV: I grew up reading Trixie Belden books (and other series, but Trixie was always my favorite!), and loved the combination of mystery within each book but returning characters who felt like friends. Decades later, I thought I’d like to write a children’s mystery series, but I never had any ideas. It wasn’t until after I discovered the humorous mystery aisle at my local library, and authors like Janet Evanovich, Sarah Strohmeyer, Lawrence Block’s Burglar Who series, that I realized they were like a grown up version of what I’d loved reading as a kid. That’s when I first had the idea for Samantha Kidd.
All photos were sourced via Pinterest with the acception of the lovely portrait of Diane that I found on Jungle Red Writers.