Author(s): Michael Pick
Norman Hartnell (1901-1979) was a unique British genius. For nearly sixty years he was a major personality in the world of fashion. By the mid 1930s, Hartnell's meteoric rise to fame resulted in London becoming a centre of style that closely rivalled Paris. Known for glamorous evening clothes, Hartnell augmented his early design successes by creating a series of stunning wedding dresses for his younger society clientele. His bridal extravaganzas culminated in the romantic 1947 wedding of Princess Elizabeth to Prince Philip. While Hartnell clients included members of the English upper class as well as the best-known stage and film actresses of the time, it was his royal patronage that assured him a place in history.The famous "White Wardrobe" created for Queen Elizabeth (and photographed by Cecil Beaton) in the late 1930s changed her image forever; the extraordinary coronation robes designed for Elizabeth II in 1953; and the sublimely simple wedding dress he made for Princess Margaret when she was married to Lord Snowdon in 1960 remain iconic to this day. Decades of achievement were rewarded with a Knighthood in 1977.