The Time-Traveling Fashionista at the Palace of Marie Antoinette


By Bianca Turetsky

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What if a beautiful dress could take you back in time?

Louise Lambert’s best friend’s thirteenth birthday party is fast approaching, so of course the most important question on her mind is, “What am I going to wear?!” Slipping on an exquisite robin’s egg blue gown during another visit to the mysterious Traveling Fashionista Vintage Sale, Louise finds herself back in time once again, swept up in the glory of palace life, fancy parties, and enormous hair as a member of the court of France’s most infamous queen, Marie Antoinette.

But between cute commoner boys and glamorous trips to Paris, life in the palace isn’t all cake and couture. Can Louise keep her cool-and her head!-as she races against the clock to get home?


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"As far as I'm concerned, 'playing
dress-up' begins at the age of five
and never truly ends."

American clothing and
handbag designer


Louise is alone in the forest and it is dark. She knows that she has never been to these woods before; she is in new territory. The pounding of horses' hooves rumbles off in the background, and she stops walking and forces her eyes to adjust to the dim light. Out of the shadows, ten women in old-fashioned velvet cloaks clasped at the neck approach Louise and form a circle around her. She keeps still and alert, not wanting to show them how terrified she truly is. Inside she is shaking, but somewhere in her gut she knows that she is in charge, that these women are here to serve her. One of the cloaked figures approaches her and pulls off the red velvet cape Louise has protectively wrapped around her shoulders and lets it fall to the dirt. Louise hears the faint roar of thunder in the distance. A storm is coming soon.

They lead her into a makeshift wooden structure that is decorated inside like a fancy sitting room covered in royal blue brocade fabric, and Louise now feels as if she is playing a role in a very old ritual. A miniature white shih tzu is following her, trying to hide itself in the folds of her long crinoline skirts. Suddenly there is a frenzy of grabbing and pulling as the women tear off her clothing, ripping her beautiful ivory dress to rags, while she stands there helpless. STOP! Louise shrieks inside her head as a woman yanks the yellow satin ribbons from her hair. Another woman scoops up the yelping dog and quickly hurries out of the room before Louise can reach for it. The women take everything from her and toss the items carelessly onto the floor, even the delicate gold-and-ruby bracelet from her thin wrist. Leave me alone! Somebody help me! Louise blinks back hot, angry tears as her words get choked down inside her throat.

The matronly leader of the women then motions for the others to stop as she reverently hands Louise a new dress, a beautiful old-fashioned gown made of a fine powder blue silk that feels like liquid velvet, finer than anything she has ever owned before. Another lady gently pulls back Louise's hair with a long white silk ribbon, while yet another clasps a diamond-and-sapphire pendant on a sparkly silver chain around her neck. But despite her new luxurious adornments, Louise is still scared—alone in a strange place in the middle of the woods, far from all that is familiar to her. She knows that this has been planned and that her life is about to change forever. She is not the same girl anymore.

Louise Lambert bolted upright in bed. She was safe.

The somber sound of classical music filled her bedroom. How was it morning already? She rubbed her sleep-crusted eyes with the back of her hand and yawned. Sometimes her dream life was so active that Louise felt like she didn't even get a chance to sleep at all. She glanced over at her glowing clock radio: 7:17 AM. Time for another school day.

Louise liked waking up to a symphony; that way she could linger in her dream world for a little longer, like she wasn't abruptly grounded in her present reality quite yet. She could still be anywhere. She thought back to last night's nocturnal adventures and immediately felt like she was back in that blue brocade room, clinging to the ivory dress the women had taken off her that represented her old life so far away from home. But whose home, exactly? What old life? Those women in the woods were creepy; they wanted to turn her into someone she wasn't. And yet, in the end, it wasn't quite a nightmare, because they dressed her up in an even fancier gown and jewels. She could almost still feel the tickle of their silk-gloved hands softly brushing back her hair. But it left her with a majorly weird feeling. Where did that scene come from? Louise wondered as she propped herself up on her feather pillows. She pulled out her cherry red leather-bound journal and colored pencils from the top drawer of her bedside table and began drawing a rough sketch of the pale blue dress with its hoop skirt and fitted bodice before it completely evaporated from her memory. Maybe she could find something similar in her illustrated vintage dictionary, otherwise known as her fashion bible. She started flipping through the dog-eared pages of Shopping for Vintage: The Definitive Guide to Fashion, past the bright multicolored patterned Missonis and the outlandish Elsa Schiaparellis….

"Louise! Breakfast!" Her mom's shrill British voice pierced the quiet house. Jumping up from her warm, cozy, canopy bed, she changed out of her white-and-red-striped cotton pajamas and threw on a Mavi heather gray jersey dress (wishing it were an original by Diane von Furstenberg, the queen of the jersey wrap dress, from the seventies), a black lace Zac Posen for Target cardigan she had laid out the night before, and, as always, her neon pink Converse.

Automatically, she ripped off a page from her daily Virgo horoscope calendar, hoping to get some potential insight into her day. Louise didn't technically believe in astrological forecasts, but she also didn't used to believe in time travel, which she swore she had just done for real a few weeks ago, so now she wasn't sure what was real anymore. "Your values will be tested; hold on to what truly brings you happiness. The rest is just the icing on the cake." Ummm, okay. Her values were pretty much tested every day at Fairview Junior High, so that much was accurate. What would truly bring her happiness would be to stay home from school and scour eBay and Etsy for the perfect pillbox hat or a one-of-a-kind vintage accessory. Although cake sounded pretty good right now—particularly when compared with the bland bowl of lukewarm oatmeal that was inevitably waiting for her downstairs.

"Breakfast!" reverberated throughout the huge drafty house. Her mom seemed to think the universe would come to a grinding halt if she missed her morning bowl of Quaker Oats.

"Be right down!" Louise shouted back, grabbing her antiquated Polaroid camera off the blond oak dresser. The bulky camera was a relic of her dad's from the eighties that she had discovered in a random steamer trunk in the basement. Louise had to special-order the expensive film online because the company didn't even produce it anymore, but to her it was worth it. She loved the dreamy and muted quality of the instant pictures that the camera noisily spit out. They looked like they could have been taken decades ago. And to Louise, that was a good thing. To put it simply, Louise was obsessed with all things vintage. From her mother, she had inherited a love of classic films, but, unlike her mom, she also developed an obsession with fashion from those bygone eras. Her sizable walk-in closet was quickly filling up with her ever-expanding collection of thrift-store finds.

She pointed the camera down at herself and smiled—a hesitating smile, the tight-lipped grin of a girl with a mouth crammed full of silver braces—and snapped a picture. It was her daily ritual that she'd started several months ago on her twelfth birthday, a visual diary that one day she planned to make into a book. She labeled the gray underdeveloped photo June 5 with a black ballpoint pen and stashed it in her sock drawer just as the cloudy film was beginning to come into focus.

Louise caught a glimpse of the teal-colored Traveling Fashionista invitation that was partially hidden underneath her navy blue ribbed wool tights and reread the now familiar information with a tickling, nervous excitement.

Louise knew from her daily photographs that on the outside she looked pretty much like she did before she went to the initial Traveling Fashionista Vintage Sale: same flat chest, frizzy brown pulled-back hair, annoying braces. But she also felt as if something inside her had shifted.

The first invitation, printed on thick purple stationery, mysteriously arrived unaddressed and with no postage on an otherwise typical April afternoon. She showed up at the unfamiliar Chapel Street location, not sure of what to expect, as none of her friends had received a similar invitation. But as soon as Louise walked into the curious shop, she was bedazzled by the endless selection of clothing, shoes, and accessories from every era and vintage designer she idolized. The cluttered store was run by two colorfully eccentric salesladies, Marla and Glenda, who reluctantly let her try on the most incredible pink shimmery evening gown, which ended up fitting her perfectly. Perhaps a bit too perfectly, as before she knew it, Louise found herself actually waking up in the life of a Miss Alice Baxter, the previous owner of the dress, on board a ship a hundred years ago. She also happened to be Louise's great-aunt! Oh, and the other minor detail was that the ship happened to be… the Titanic. What had started out as a search for the perfect dress for Fairview Junior High's semiformal turned into something much more mind-blowing and insanely adventurous.

It was like her life had finally decided to wake up and start getting good. For some reason that she had yet to fully comprehend, Louise had been the one chosen to receive these invitations. Maybe hers was the kind of life where adventurous things actually happened. Like all of her twelve years of waiting wasn't for nothing. According to the handwritten letter she later received from Marla and Glenda, she was a Fashionista now. She'd found the invitation to the second sale with this note on her bedside table.

"Last warning, Louise Lambert!"

She could get lost in these memories and daydreams for hours, but at this particular moment, Louise still needed to catch the bus. She grabbed her faded purple backpack and sprinted down the curved and creaky main staircase to force down another torturously balanced meal.


"Thirteen is, like, a big deal. I mean, I'm officially a teenager," Brooke Patterson announced while applying strawberry-scented lip gloss to her already perfect red pout in the locker mirror. "Twelve always felt kind of babyish. No offense, Louise."

"None taken. Anyway, I think I kind of like babyish. I'm not ready to give up the Barbie Dream House yet." Louise was kidding. Sort of. "Of course, you probably won't want to hang out with me this summer while you're thirteen and I'm still an infantile twelve," she said, twirling a flyaway strand of hair that had escaped her auburn brown ponytail.

Louise anxiously looked over at her friend, who was wearing a heather gray scoop-neck T-shirt with a little Abercrombie moose embroidered on the pocket, a dark denim miniskirt, black leggings, and camel-colored Uggs (even though it was almost seventy degrees outside). The overcrowded hall was a noisy cacophony of slamming lockers, yelling teachers, and squeaky rubber-soled sneakers skidding across the swamp green linoleum floor.

She didn't want her best friend to grow up without her, and yet, without fail, each year since they were babies, Brooke did just that. At least for the three months until Louise would turn thirteen as well. Louise sometimes did still play with her old Barbies, which she kept hidden in the back of her walk-in closet in a beaten-up, nondescript black steamer trunk that used to belong to her mom. But she played with them in a more mature way now, like they solved mysteries and had Barbie kisses.

"Whatever, it's just a number," Brooke sighed, so clearly not believing that.

"Right," Louise agreed. "Besides, thirteen is unlucky. Elevators don't even stop there. So if your life were like a building, you would still be stuck at twelve like me. Or already at fourteen."

"An elevator? What are you talking about, Lou?" Brooke asked, giving her mirror image one last glossy pucker. "Are you jealous?"

"Yes," Louise admitted. They both laughed.

"Anyway, my party has to be monumental. Historic. It has to go down in the Fairview Junior High School history books as the most amazing thirteenth birthday party. Ever."

"You should have a theme party!" Louise cried suddenly, then looked down at her pink Converse, wondering if that was a tad childish of a suggestion. Like something only a twelve-year-old would think of?

"Love it!" Brooke squealed.

"It can be a fancy dress-up party." Louise grinned. "You can write on the invitations that the girls have to wear dresses and boys won't be allowed in without a suit and tie. Or at least the tie part."

"Perfect! Like prom, but not."

"Exactly!" Louise loved coming up with ideas like this.

"Maybe you can get something to wear at the next Fashionista Sale?" Brooke asked hesitantly.


Ever since Louise's adventure as Miss Baxter on the Titanic, her best friend, who had never bought anything not in a mall or department store, had suddenly developed an interest in her vintage collection. Louise was pretty sure it was because her friend thought she had gone off the deep end and wanted to keep an eye on her sanity. Brooke, not surprisingly, didn't exactly believe Louise's completely crazy–sounding story of how she had spent a few amazing days on board the infamous ship experiencing the life of her great-aunt Alice, a wildly rich and beautiful actress. Brooke had gone with her to the sale, and to her it just seemed like Louise had passed out with a high fever. Even when she showed her friend the old grainy newspaper photograph she found online taken on the A Deck of the White Star Line, aka the Titanic, dated April 12, 1912, Brooke still didn't take her seriously. Louise had to admit the tiny image was pixelated and blurry, but she knew deep down that it was undeniably herself in that picture standing alongside Jacob and Madeleine Astor even though there was no rational way to explain any of it. At least she had this proof for herself. She knew she wasn't crazy. Right?

After Brooke's skeptical reaction, Louise didn't show anyone else that photo, not even her parents. They probably wouldn't believe her anyway, and if they did, she didn't want to spend the rest of her seventh-grade school year hooked up to electrodes and being tested as a time-traveling science experiment in a lab somewhere. Instinctively, she knew that her experience with the two witchy stylists she'd met at the magical Fashionista Vintage Sale was something special she should keep protected. Especially if she wanted to go back to the second sale—which she knew she did, considering that Marla and Glenda possessed the most amazing collection of designer vintage clothing Louise had ever seen. Of course, she was also really excited at the prospect of time-traveling again.

"We'll see when or if I get another invitation," Louise eventually replied, crossing her fingers behind her back because this wasn't exactly true. She had found the invitation to the next sale on her bedside table the same night she woke up from the supposed hallucinations brought on by a severe bout of food poisoning from the rancid crab dip Marla had given her at the Fashionista Sale. Or at least that's how her parents rationalized the whole thing. She was somewhat nervous to go back a second time, but the possibility of something actually happening again in her otherwise mundane existence (or of finding an original Vivienne Westwood kilt, Balenciaga flamenco-style dress, or something equally fabulous and rare) made those butterflies a moot point.

Louise realized this was the first secret she had deliberately kept from Brooke, and it made her feel both uncomfortable and a little special at the same time. It was the first thing that was only hers. She sort of wanted to keep it that way at least for a little while. Brooke honestly didn't care that much about vintage fashion. Also, for once, Louise was the one who had been chosen.

"Okay, cool," Brooke replied, running her pink manicured fingers through her wavy golden locks. Yes, she had golden locks.

Usually it was Brooke who was the Chosen One. She was a straight-A student, involved in practically every extracurricular activity Fairview offered, except for the ones like math league and chess club, and unassumingly pretty in a way that made it impossible for guys, girls, teachers, parents, and everyone else, for that matter, not to like her. With her clear blue eyes and long, wavy, sun-streaked blonde hair (which miraculously glowed even in the dead of a Connecticut winter), Brooke had never been subjected to what Louise's mom gently called "an awkward phase"—which in Louise's case was obviously a euphemism for "really ugly unfortunate few years."

Louise, on the other hand, felt like she was indeterminably stuck in hers. No matter how many different Frizz-Away conditioners and serums she put in her hair, they were no match for the chlorine that fried her auburn curls for two hours every day during Coach Murphy's swim practices. She had a feeling those grueling workouts also contributed to the fact that her double-A-cup bra was still a little baggy and her period, which she desperately wanted for no other reason than to prove that she was a normal almost-thirteen-year-old girl, had yet to arrive. On top of all that, she still had another three months, two weeks, and six days before her braces came off. Not that she was counting or anything.

"Okay, I'm going to be late for gym," Brooke said as the warning bell rang, and she slammed her locker shut. Louise smiled; typical that her best friend would spend fifteen minutes meticulously fixing her hair and applying lip gloss before rushing off to play dodgeball. "See you on the bus!"

"Don't remind me." Louise groaned. The bus ride was currently the bane of her existence because this year Billy Robertson had made it his job to annoy her on the drive to and from school, mostly about whatever vintage piece she was wearing that day. He thought her unique style was "old" and "ratty." In Brooke's expert opinion, that was his way of flirting; in Louise's limited experience, it was just embarrassing.

Today in particular, she wasn't feeling too hot. While eating a forbidden Twix bar at lunch, all the more delicious now that its chocolate-and-caramelly goodness was banned by her orthodontist, Louise had felt the metal wire on her upper left brace snap. Her mouth was currently of chipmunk proportions, swollen and crammed full of wax, until she could make her emergency appointment after school.

So it was pretty much a given that she would run into Todd Berkowitz at that moment. Something peculiar had happened since she came back from being Miss Baxter. She kind of… well, cared. Todd had not exactly been transformed from a shaggy-haired frog into a skateboard-riding, baggy-pants-wearing prince, but Louise's consciousness had shifted. She hated to admit it, even to herself, but she now wanted to look good if he was around. Louise had spent the first half of middle school literally running away from him. It took a voyage back to 1912 and meeting a totally hot, rich creep named Benjamin Guggenheim for her to realize that Todd may not have been the man of her dreams, but he was actually pretty cool.

She thought back to slow dancing with him at the semi-formal shortly after she got back from her Titanic adventure. At first, she had been scared to put on the Lucile dress again, afraid she would open her eyes and find herself back on the ship, but all was okay. In some way it must have already served its purpose. She and Todd hadn't really been dancing, just kind of swaying to the music and shuffling their feet a little. Without realizing it until later, Louise had pretty much held her breath through the entire three-minute song. She'd then had to discreetly wipe her sweaty hands on the flowing silk skirt of the pink vintage Lucile dress when she and Todd had awkwardly unhooked themselves after the DJ abruptly transitioned into a Beyoncé song. Todd Berkowitz had turned into someone who could make her nervous! It was infuriating and unexpected.

Even though they technically went to the dance together because Todd had asked her earlier that week, Louise spent most of the night hanging out by the punch bowl with Brooke and some other girls in their grade who went alone or had also abandoned their dates, because that was still more fun. Louise and Todd had supposedly gone to the dance as a couple, but that didn't stop Todd from slow dancing with Tiff Freedman while Louise was helping herself to another glass of overly sweetened fruit punch. She had assumed going to the dance with someone meant not slow dancing with other girls. Apparently, she'd been wrong.

Since that night, she and Todd had hung out a bit more in school, but it wasn't like in the old movies Louise watched, when a boy would give you his letter jacket or class ring and then you and everyone else would know that things were different. They were kind of just a little different.

The sound of Todd's snorting laughter in the hallway snapped her back to reality. Louise and her swollen cheek hid behind her flimsy beige metal locker door as he walked by with his eyes partially covered by his floppy auburn hair, wearing his gray hooded sweatshirt and New Balance sneakers, laughing and joking around with Tiff Freedman. He held his beaten-up skateboard in one hand and some textbooks in the other. Tiff's books?


  • "Turetsky delivers her enjoyable history lesson through the eyes of a girl who knows every major and minor fashion designer, a character sure to appeal to her target audience, as will the time-traveling theme. Appealing illustrations aid readers' imaginations... Good fun."—Kirkus Reviews
  • "The Time Traveling Fashionista had me under its spell from the first page. It whisked me back in time to an era of impeccable manners, glamorous people, and of course, gorgeous clothes. Debut author Bianca Turetsky has begun an amazing new series."—Joanna Philbin, author of the Daughters series on The Time-Traveling Fashionista On Board the Titanic

On Sale
Nov 5, 2013
Page Count
272 pages

Bianca Turetsky

About the Author

Bianca Turetsky is the author of the stylish Time-Traveling Fashionista series, which has been translated into nine languages. A graduate of Tufts University, Bianca managed the studio of artist/filmmaker Julian Schnabel for the last ten years. She lives in a cozy studio apartment in Brooklyn, New York, that houses her very extensive and much-loved vintage collection.

Learn more about this author