Sir Norman Hartnell born 12 June 1901 (d. 1979)
Sir Norman Bishop Hartnell, KCVO, was an English fashion designer appointed dressmaker to the British Royal Family in 1938. In addition to his royal work, Hartnell was a successful and influential couturier who defined smart and glamorous dressing for British post-war high society.
Educated at Brighton College before studying Architecture at Cambridge University, he opened his own business in 1923 and became known for his elaborate and intricately decorated gowns. Hartnell designed the dresses worn by Queen Elizabeth II on her marriage to Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh in 1947, and her coronation in 1953. He also designed dresses for Elizabeth, The Queen Mother and Queen Mary.
The dress designed for the Queen's wedding contained 10,000 seed pearls and many thousands of white crystal beads. For its display in 2003 for the anniversary of the coronation of Her Majesty The Queen, ten restorers worked on it. In the embroidery, various symbols for different countries of the Commonwealth can be seen, such as the Scottish thistle, Australian wattle, the maple leaf of Canada and the pearly lotus flower for India.
Hartnell also designed Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother's famous 'White Wardrobe' for her 1938 State Visit to France with her husband King George VI. On the death of Queen Elizabeth's mother, the Countess of Strathmore, Hartnell remade the Queen's entire wardrobe in white, resurrecting the ancient French usage of white as royal mourning.
Hartnell moved in theatrical circles, counting famed photographer Cecil Beaton and dandy and socialite Bunny Roger as close friends. His autobiography, released in 1955, was entitled Silver and Gold and reveals little of his personal life as one might expect. As they say, he never married.
On 11 May 2005, Hartnell was commemorated with an English Heritage Blue Plaque at 26 Bruton Street, London W1, where he lived and worked from 1935 to 1979.
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