Paris, L.A., and the world of ready to wear fashion provide rich backdrops for Danielle Steel’s deeply involving story of a gifted designer whose talent and drive have brought her everything—except the ability to erase her past and trust relationships.
New York. London. Milan. Paris. Fashion Week in all four cities. A month of endless interviews, parties, and unflagging work and attention to detail at the semiannual ready to wear fashion shows—the famous prêt-à-porter. At the center of the storm and avalanche of work is American Timmie O’Neill, whose renowned line, Timmie O, is the embodiment of casual chic, in fashion and for the home. She has created a business that inspires, fills, and consumes her life.
With an unerring instinct for what the next trend will be, an innate genius for business, tireless labor, and sheer fearlessness, starting from nothing, over two decades Timmie has built an international empire that has brought her enormous satisfaction and success. In a world where humility and compassion are all too rare, her humor, kindness, integrity, and creativity are inspirational. Yet as blessed as she feels by her success, Timmie harbors the private wounds of a devastating childhood and past tragedy. She is too smart, too experienced, and too hurt to want much in her personal life beyond a succession of convenient, very limited relationships. Always willing to take risks in business, she never risks her heart.
But despite her well-ordered and highly controlled world, it turns out that Timmie O’Neill is not immune to magic when it strikes. And it strikes in Paris during Paris Fashion Week, when an intriguing Frenchman comes into her life when she gets sick. At first, Timmie and Jean-Charles Vernier are only patient and physician. They become confidants and friends, corresponding at a safe distance between Paris and Los Angeles once she goes home. There is every reason why they must remain apart. But neither can deny their growing friendship and the electricity that sparks whenever they meet.
First Sight is as complex and compelling as modern life itself. Careers, families, histories, losses, duty, obligation, and fear of losing control and getting hurt. It is a tale of daring to take risks, and losing control just enough to have a life, when the opportunity presents itself. When two very different worlds and strong-willed people collide, everything changes in an instant, as they confront the age-old question of whether to lay oneself bare and risk intimacy—or not. Are they brave enough to face what comes next? And will they do it together or apart?
Praise for First Sight
“A novel about love, in all its heartbreaking and splendid forms.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Steel is one of the world’s most popular authors, and this poignant romance is sure to thrill her many loyal fans and reach many new readers, too.”—Booklist
“Steel deftly stages heartstring-tugging moments.”—Publishers Weekly
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|Publisher:||Random House Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||4.10(w) x 6.80(h) x 1.30(d)|
About the Author
Hometown:San Francisco, California
Date of Birth:August 14, 1947
Place of Birth:New York, New York
Education:Educated in France. Also attended Parsons School of Design, 1963, and New York University, 1963-67
Read an Excerpt
The pilot's voice on the Alitalia flight to Paris from Milan woke Timmie from a brief nap. She was exhausted after a week in New York, then two more in Europe, first in London, then in Milan. It was a pilgrimage she made twice a year in February and October for the ready to wear fashion shows the famous "pret-a-porter," where she introduced her new lines. She was the founder, guiding light, principal designer, and CEO of the most important men's and women's ready to wear lines in the United States, with subsidiary companies in Europe, which was what brought her to the European ready to wear shows twice a year. She showed her U.S. lines with the other American designers in New York. Hers was the only company that exhibited its wares in all four shows, both in Europe and the States. Timmie O'Neill had run her business _single-_handedly for _twenty-_three years, since she was _twenty-_five years old, when it all began. At _forty-_eight, her empire was so vast, it encompassed children's wear, home furnishings, and decorating accessories, including wallpaper, sheets and towels, and linens. Ten years before, they had added cosmetics, men and women's skin care products, and half a dozen perfumes, which had stunned them all with their universal appeal and almost instant success in every country where they were sold. Timmie O'Neill was a name that was known worldwide, and associated with style, fashion at a range of price points, and astonishing success. The world of Timmie O had been a legendary victory for more than two decades, and now its founder and CEO was heading for Paris to oversee the October ready to wear shows; of its _European-_based lines. The rest of the American designers wore themselves out during the frenzy of fashion week in New York, without adding the insanity of the European pret-a-porter. Only Timmie did both, with her boundless energy and legendary success. But even she was exhausted after Milan, and absolutely drained when she thought of doing the show again in Paris. The clothes they had just shown in Milan had been received with even greater than usual kudos from the press. For her entire career, it seemed, Timmie O'Neill had had a Midas touch, and could do no wrong in the eyes of the fashion world. Even during the occasional seasons when she had been less pleased with their lines herself, or the critics had been slightly less in love with them, they had done staggeringly well nonetheless. Everything Timmie did, she did well, she threw herself into all she undertook with perfectionism, boundless energy, and inimitable style and grace. She was relentless in how hard she pushed herself, far more than anyone else, and what she expected of herself. She had an uncanny knack for predicting what the world would want to wear, live with, and smell like, long before they thought about it themselves. Along with their clothing lines, their perfumes were among the biggest sellers in the world. She had chosen the scents and designed the packaging herself. There was very little that Timmie O'Neill didn't do well, brilliantly in fact, except maybe cook. And dress, she liked to say. As sensitive and forward thinking as her designs were, she insisted that most of the time she didn't care what she wore herself. She had little time to give it much thought, although the clothes she designed had made her famous, particularly her signature sportswear, which managed to be simul_taneously casual, easy to wear, and chic. There was a simple, clean _elegance to everything she designed, and without even trying, or thinking about it, she herself was the epitome of casual chic.
On the flight from Milan, she was wearing jeans, a T-shirt, both of her own label, a vintage mink jacket she had found years before in the back streets of Milan, and black ballerina flats she had designed the year before. She carried a large black alligator Hermes bag that had been the precursor of the Birkin, and was even more striking because of its size, and had real style because it looked well worn, after years of use on trips such as this.
The pilot announced their descent toward Charles de Gaulle Aiport in Raisey, just outside Paris, as Timmie stretched her legs out in front of her in one of the plane's eight _first-_class seats. She had slept for most of the brief flight and through the meal. She was wiped out after the pressure, work, and revels of Milan. The European ready to wear shows particularly entailed endless parties and socializing as well. No one ever slept till the end. There was a priest sitting next to her on the plane, who had said nothing to her during the flight, and was probably one of the few people who wouldn't recognize her, and wasn't wearing something she'd designed. They had nodded to each other politely when she took her seat, and ten minutes later, after glancing at The International Herald Tribune to see what they said about the collection she'd shown in Milan, and London the week before that, she was sound asleep. As the landing gear came down, she glanced out the window with a smile, thinking of Paris, and then turned to her two assistants, who were seated across the aisle from her. The priest had been happy to take the window seat, and neither of Timmie's _assistants had disturbed her while she slept. They'd all had a grueling three weeks, first at the shows in New York, then London and Milan. Paris was their last stop, much to their collective relief.
All four shows were important, and the ready to wear shows in Paris were always _high-_pressure, fast paced, and stressful from beginning to end. Milan was an important mecca of the fashion world, but Paris always mattered to her most. It always had. Paris was the city she loved most in the world, and the one that had spawned her dreams. Timmie still looked sleepy as she handed some notes to her assistants, David and Jade. David had been with her for six years, and Jade for twelve. They were passionately devoted to her for her kindness, fairness, and all they'd learned from her personally as well as professionally. Everything about Timmie was inspirational, from the genius of her work, to the thoughtful, compassionate way she treated people. David always said she was lit from within, like a beacon that shined through the darkness, pointing out the path for others. And the best of her was that she was entirely unaware of how remarkable she was. Humility was unheard of in the fashion world, but all who knew her agreed that she was amazingly uncomplicated and modest. She had a completely innate, instinctive sense about how to run her business, who she was designing for, and what they wanted to wear next season. She was quick to sense adjustments that had to be made, and never hesitated to make changes in the lines when necessary. There had been many over the years. She was never afraid to try something new, no matter how high risk. She was fearless in all she did. She lived life in bold strokes and had been a wonderful employer and friend to David and Jade over the years. Timmie was trustworthy, incredibly hard working, to the point of being driven, brilliant, creative, funny, compassionate, somewhat obsessive, a perfectionist in all things, and above all kind. She drove herself harder than she did anyone else. The standard she set for competence, efficiency, creativity, and integrity was high. She was merciless in her pursuit of perfection in all things.
David Gold had come to her right after graduating from Parsons as an aspiring designer, and Timmie had rapidly determined that his designs were prosaic and tended to lean more toward past styles that had been reliable and solid, but he had little of the forward vision toward the future that she looked for in design assistants. But she had seen in him something far different and more useful. He had a knack for ingenious marketing ideas, was supremely organized and attentive to details, and had an ability to keep vast numbers of people on track at the same time. She had singled him out of the design team rapidly, and put him to work for her as an assistant. He still came to the shows with her twice a year, but his responsibilities had grown exponentially in his six years with her. At _thirty-_two, he was a vice president in charge of marketing, and she reviewed all their publicity and ad campaigns with him. Together they had honed their PR image till it gleamed. He was brilliant at what he did.
As always, he made everything about the New York and European shows easier for her. Timmie had often said that his business card should read "magician" instead of VP in charge of marketing. The creativity he had lacked as a designer he had a hundredfold when it came to ideas about marketing, advertising, and handling people, in ways Timmie insisted she couldn't have done herself. She was always fair about acknowledging others' achievements and quick to lavish praise where it was due. She was extremely fond of him, and had nursed him back to health herself during a bout of hepatitis four years before. They had been close friends ever since, and he revered her as his mentor, and said she had taught him everything he'd ever learned about the fashion industry, while Timmie claimed he had long since outstripped her skills. Their team efforts were a huge success to the immeasurable benefit of "Timmie O," the company as well as the woman.