Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Style Icon - The Duke of Windsor

My published editorial - www.thestyleking.com

“Chic Fatigue”, is how Diana Vreeland described The Duke for American Vogue because of the casual yet elegant style he kept his whole life – before, during and after his short reign.

Born and groomed to be heir to the largest Empire the world had seen since ancient Rome, Edward VIII was bought up at the sober court of his serious and dominating father George V. Provoked and feeling restrained by what was constantly expected of him as Prince of Wales and King, Edward was a man who threw off the shackles of conformity, obligation and duty and opted to embrace the growing world of frivolity and glamour enforced by the scars of WWI and dazzling lights of Hollywood’s Golden Age.

Rebelling against the conformity of royal life, he was a self-proclaimed trendsetter and true British dandy, crossing barriers and etiquette of dress. This, combined with his seductive charm, made him irresistible and the most eligible bachelor in the world.

Described by Noel Coward as having “All the charm in the world with nothing to back it up” the Duke of Windsor was a Peter Pan Prince. Self involved and never wanting the party to stop, he was a flirtatious and hopeless romantic, falling in love with the twice-divorced, bewitching American, Wallis Simpson. Consequently, forced to choose love over his duty as King he abdicated in 1936 having only been King for less than a year. He and Wallis lived the jet set lifestyle in exile and he continued to display his flair for fine tailoring and a distinctive style.

His style may not seem rebellious today, but in the 1920’s and 30’s his quirky wardrobe of mad mixed checks and plaids and extremely baggy plus fours (and this only for golf!) sent shock waves through the establishment, sparked new trends and gave British fashion a sartorial rebranding.
He was a great innovator too, introducing the dinner jacket which was born out of the American tuxedo jacket and worn by HRH in rich ink blue with black grosgrain lapels. He also made tartan popular on everything from suit jackets to swimming shorts.

As Duke, he perfected his signature look, typically seen in a formal tailored suit and hat, with a manic mix of Madras checked shirt, paisley cravat, plaid trousers and argyle socks. Edward was naturally stylish with an instinctive knowledge of what to wear and how to wear it, making him the perfect style icon. From state robes to top hat and tails or his more racy dress, he always looked picture perfect.

The charming, outrageously dressed, scandalous and love struck HRH was the darling of the royal social circuit until his very public fall from grace, for the woman that he loved. Despite his renunciation of the throne, he will for ever stand out in history as the charming effervescent bastion of modern menswear.

By Sam Outing