Charlotte Smith has had more than her fair share of fabulous dresses and adventures. Born in Hong Kong and raised in the United States, she lived in London, Paris and New York before falling in love with Australia and settling in the Blue Mountains. In between juggling school lunches, Charlotte discovered she had inherited a priceless vintage clothing collection from her American Quaker godmother, Doris Darnell. Then the boxes started arriving, with more than 3,000 treasures dating from 1790 to 1995, from originals by Dior, Chanel and Balenciaga to a pioneer woman's daintily mended best dress. But when Charlotte unearthed Doris's book of stories about the dresses and the women who wore them, the true value of what she had been bequeathed hit home. This wasn't a mere collection of beautiful things, it was a collection of life. Women's lives. Tiny snapshots of our joys and disappointments, our entrances and exits, triumphant and tragic.