14 August 2010



the Duchess of Windsor from the pages of LIFE

imagine the Duchess dressing for Alex de Rede's Bal Oriental, 1969.

Jacqueline de Ribes recalled

'I worked on my costume for three months, I cut up three couture dresses and a sable coat. She was no good with fancy dress. She had no sense of theatre.'

de Ribes above r. and center figure below, by Serebriakoff

Is it just me or does that amuse You?
The Duchess was theatre.&
Never would she have cut up couture-
Sell them maybe, but never cut them up.



  1. Yes, fundamentally that remark is very amusing. I've never been persuaded that Her Un-R H understood herself so well as you do, in this persuasive riposte to J de R. If she had, I still think the royal succession would have been transferred over some other evidence of its incumbent's unfitness, but not for the spectacle she gave us. Whatever this woman wore - and we've all seen the mountains of trunks - could claim the sustenance it gave to couture, as its only legitimate aspect.

  2. L. this little snippet is amusing and mostly that is all. Though she was no scholar I think the D. knew pretty well herself -What there was to know. Right now I am reading Diana Mosley's assessment of her friend with interest. It may be so- that the King was unfit to rule-but loss of one's head,revolution,- seems to be the only way a British monarch was gotten rid of, or dying a natural death of a life well lived. G.

  3. this adds something to the more complex intrigue of the Duchess..."left her with fewer alternatives than she had anticipated. Somehow she thought that the Establishment could be overcome once [Edward] was king, and she confessed frankly to Aunt Bessie about her "insatiable ambitions" ... Trapped by his flight from responsibility into exactly the role she had sought, suddenly she warned him, in a letter, "You and I can only create disaster together" ... she predicted to society hostess Sybil Colefax, "two people will suffer" because of "the workings of a system" ... Denied dignity, and without anything useful to do, the new Duke of Windsor and his Duchess would be international society's most notorious parasites for a generation, while they thoroughly bored each other ... She had thought of him as emotionally a Peter Pan, and of herself an Alice in Wonderland. The book they had written together, however, was a Paradise Lost. Weintraub, Post obit. It is the human condition .

  4. L. I was curious too about the Sotheby's auction in 1987,the sale raised 45 million dollars for the Pasteur Institute- her beneficiary. pgt

  5. Yes, and the most corrupt paymaster in the history of the British Army commissioned the "Chandos Anthems" of Georg Friderich Händel. One doesn't forget the Pasteur bequest, or how it fell into her hands to dissipate its capital in every dimension of both terms, before bestowing it.

    But I stray. One dislikes accepting any bait to judge any person, which may well have been the desperate underlying impulse of her incurable excesses. She was a figure of interest to many people, and the further they inquired, the more this would have been to the good. On the whole Frances Donaldson got her pretty right - as did Bobby Short, of course.



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