The Designer Diaries – Norman Hartnell: Pt. 3

The last wedding to be featured in this Hartnell series is the May 6th, 1960 wedding of Princess Margaret to photographer Mr. Antony Armstrong-Jones. You can revisit the other two weddings (Princess Elizabeth) here, and (The Duchess of Gloucester) here. And as always, no part of this series could have been assembled without the Wiki page for Norman Hartnell.

Princess Margaret’s wedding was the last full State occasion for which Hartnell designed an impressive number of gowns and dresses. Her memorable dress was made from yards and yards of silk organza, with the skirt alone containing close to 100 feet (98.4252 to be exact) of fabric. Due to her small stature, embellishments were purposely kept to a minimum (a rarity for Hartnell as he loved his floof) in order to prevent the bride from being completely overwhelmed. Many have described the dress as stunningly tailored and a study in simplicity, with 1960’s Life magazine declaring it “the simplest royal wedding gown in history.” It has also been referred to as one of Hartnell’s most beautiful and sophisticated pieces.

I’m afraid all Getty has for us today are black and white sketches. Boo.

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But have no fear! Internet for the win! I’m not really sure if this is an alternate sketch for Margaret’s gown or not. It does look a bit like her though, and it is a Hartnell, so you can be the judge.

Photo Credit:

A watercolour sketch/painting – “Gifted to the seller by his aunt, Mrs Edith Anne Price [Annie], who was private assistant to Norman Hartnell in the West End of London.” Hartnell’s signature isn’t on it, but who am I to doubt Auntie Annie.

Photo Credit: UK

And the final result.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Queen Elizabeth’s gown was a turquoise-blue faille and lace creation, with matching bolero jacket in silk taffeta. The dress marks a turning point in the Queen’s wardrobe as this would be the last time members of the Royal Family would wear full-length gowns for a daytime event.

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Photo Credit: Pinterest

Nine year old Princess Anne was one of the eight bridesmaids. Their dresses were replicas of Princess Margaret’s first evening dress, created in white silk organza with panels of broderie anglaise, and trimmed with blue ribbons. Bit of trivia – Hartnell assistant David Sassoon was sent to Buckingham Palace to do a fitting on Anne’s gown. HM appeared out of nowhere, looked at the dress and asked him, “Will it wash?” “She was very concerned that it would wash.” he would later recall.

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And the results.

Pretty sure this is why Betty asked about washing instructions. That’s Anne with the basket, and a young Charles to the far left.

And here’s a bit of wedding to liven up your day. Links to part two and three can be found here and here.

So what do you think? One of the most iconic royal wedding gowns ever, or too much of everything for such a wee little lady? Are you all about QEII in unrelieved turquoise, or would it have been nice to break that up a bit? Do you think Anne will somehow find a way to wear this dress again? Leave your comments below, along with your favorite memories and photos of Margo on her big day.