Among twentieth-century nobility, Edward VIII cut a relatively unique figure thanks to the way he invented and interpreted menswear. Connoisseur, innovator and dandy, he inherited the throne and the title Prince of Wales. An expert arbiter elegantiae, he followed his intuitions with extraordinary refinement, transforming bold, affectionate gestures into true style rules. His “midnight blue” became famous as an indirect progenitor of the darkest blacks. As artificial illumination began to spread to every house and home, Edward VIII created this color to express shades that were “blacker than black.” Never banal or frivolous, this worldly, jet setting prince was crowned King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Empire, and Emperor of India, on 20 January 1936. He abdicated for love less than a year later, intertwining his fate with the American Wallis Simpson, unleashing an institutional crisis in England, but also inaugurating a love story that would captivate hearts and minds all over the world.
The Vitale Barberis Canonico® wool mill’s cloth swatch archives conserve numerous volumes that can be traced back to British cloth making from the 1930s and 1940s, in other words to cloth suppliers to the tailors on Savile Row, for whom the Duke of Windsor was a favored (and demanding) client.
The “Fancies” swatch samples like the original on display here almost certainly originated in Huddersfield, in Yorkshire. Produced by an as-yet-unidentified wool mill, they date to circa 1930-1950, and constitute a key part of the company’s commercial and production memory thanks to the archival of many different chromatic varieties. The volume boasts 75 pages with cloth swatches glued in bunches on the back of each sheet. The “Fancies” include various different fabric typologies, all destined exclusively for tailor-made men’s clothing.
*References from 101 to 200
**The original on display here dates to the Winter 1940 season.