Norman Hartnell gown worn by Margaret Whigham to her wedding in 1933.
‘Perhaps the most stunning wedding dress of this period is that worn by high society beauty Margaret Whigham, later Duchess of Argyll, for her wedding to Charles Sweeney on the 21st of February 1933. This dreamy confection by the then young and up and coming designer Norman Hartnell, has a decidedly Medieval air with its flowing bell sleeves, slinky bias cut and relatively high neckline – it’s anything but demure though. The train embroidered with the traditional orange flowers and trimmed with frothy, cloud like tulle is a masterpiece and was designed to look its most splendid best as the bride made her way down the aisle of Brompton Oratory, where she was married.’
Madeleine de Valois was born at Saint Germain en Laye on the 10th of August 1520, the fifth child of François I of France and his long suffering wife Claude, who was Duchess of Brittany in her own right, being the daughter of her husband’s predecessor Louis XII and his wife, Anne of Brittany. Glorious though their ancestry might be, genetics were not on the side of the Valois family, whose dynasty would eventually come to an end with the assassination of Henri III just two generations later to be succeeded by the far more robust Bourbons.
Élisabeth de Valois, de la Cruz, 1605. Photo: Prado, Madrid.
Élisabeth de Valois was born at Fontainebleau on the 2nd of April 1545, the eldest daughter and second child of Henri II (who was Dauphin at the time and remain so until he succeeded his father François I in 1547) and the formidable Catherine de’ Medici, whose marriage had been childless for over ten years before their eldest child, the future François II was born in January 1544.