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Here at Women’s Voices for Change, we love to celebrate the Art of Reinvention—women who have successfully re-created their lives and shifted their own trajectories. But Deborah Buck—artist, author, and design entrepreneur—is simply a woman of Invention, literally. In her new book, The Windows of Buck House: Fabulous Fictional Females, she curates 22 fabulous fictional women—feisty, fearless, global, courageous, trailblazing, and heroic—and the objects of style and decor that define who they are, give us a sense of what they care about, and offer a glimpse into their worldview.

So the question is, why invent these women? The story behind the invention is just as eclectic as the book itself. From 2001 to 2012, Buck was the mastermind behind Buck House on Madison Avenue in New York City, where she sold her unique selection of  furniture, art, and decorative objects. When the business reached a point where it needed to make a deeper mark, Buck decided to use the store’s 6-foot-by-6-foot window to curate a collection of invented characters surrounded by antiques, fabrics, and props. Needless to say, it stopped lots of foot traffic on Madison Avenue.

Deborah Buck discusses the inspiration for and making of The Windows of Buck House: Fabulous Fictional Females.

Those storefront women became the inspiration for the book. And though they might be fictional on the page, they are very much based on real women. Perhaps that’s what makes Buck’s clever idea both a glamorization as well as a triumphant ode to the women who touch our lives daily. In each chapter, which is presented in four categories—Artists, Business Women, Scientists, and Explorers—we meet a roster of women with names just as intriguing as their ZIP Codes:

  • Ink Lee | Artist — Shanghai, China, 1885
  • Avril Médoc | Winemaker — Bordeaux, France 1980
  • Sheelock Holmes | Detective Extraordinaire — London, England 1900
  • Dusty BonVoyage | Author, World Traveler — New York 1927

Aesthetically, the book is a visual feast, saturated with beautifully rich full color images. In addition to its decadence, there’s an important message running throughout the biographies of the characters. In his review for The Huffington Post, interior designer Bob Richter explains that Buck’s collection of women goes beyond a book of style and decor, that Buck might be endeavoring to give women a platform for their stories and identities:

“The book defies categorization. The photos offer up an eccentric mix of beautiful objects that tell the stories of women who dared to be different and fearlessly forge identities in a man’s world. Of course such real-life women have been celebrated in many ways, but Buck chose to zero in on archetypes of women that might not have had their stories told.”

The biographies are punctuated with quotes and quips on life, on living, and loving that we applaud and adore for their charm. We’re reminded of Coco Chanel’s wit (“Fashion fades, only style remains the same”) and  Confucius’ wisdom (“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it”).

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Untitled2A re-creation of Dusty BonVoyage’s life-changing voyage.

The strength of The Windows of Buck House lies in Buck’s crafting of the characters’ biographies. They are masterfully written and offer up a glimpse into lives fashioned by art, passion, and grit. Of Dusty BonVoyage | Author, World Traveler — New York 1927, we learn:

“The heroine of her own life, she stands poised between past and present, between the rich experiences of her travels and the inevitable fame that will come from recounting the roaring good time of a world tour, replete with enough romances to fill a book and enough champagne to float a cruise ship. Hell, make that a cruise line.”

The  idea that the woman in the window is a prop whose only purpose is to sell the product is thrown out the window. Instead, Buck has invented women characters that are THE SHOW and are narrators of their own stories. 

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