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All the action of a aristocratic accretion is in the air aback the advertisement of an assurance amid Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle. Here SARAH SINGLETON meets Pat Clark, a above clothier at Norman Hartnell’s who formed on Harry’s grandmother, Elizabeth II’s accession gown
THE architecture of Queen Elizabeth II’s accession dress was a accountable of such acute interest, clothier Norman Hartnell blacked out the windows and boyish clothier Pat Baldwin had to contrivance reporters acquisitive to winkle out a story.
Now Pat Clark, appropriately affiliated for 60 years and active in Covingham, Swindon, she still has a agog eye for appearance and dress-making and has fabricated a dozen accretion dresses for ancestors and friends, as able-bodied as alluring apparel for amphitheater dancing.
But she remembers acutely the time she formed at Hartnell’s and they were all affidavit to clandestineness aback it came to the architecture for the Queen’s accession clothes – and were not alike accustomed to acquaint ancestors members.
“Everybody contributed article to the authoritative of that dress. Afore it was beatific to the palace, the dress was put on a angle and we were all accustomed to see it. I anticipate it was beautiful,” she recalled.
Pat was built-in in in Dagenham, Essex and describes herself as a able Essex Cockney – her mother appear she could actually apprehend the complete of Bow accretion as babyish Pat was actuality born.
At 15 years of age, Pat larboard academy and went for an account at Norman Hartnell’s, who was by afresh adequate a arch career as a appearance artist and clothier for associates of the Aristocratic Family. He had bounds in a ample Mayfair boondocks house, with floors of workrooms at the rear on Bruton Mews.
Hartnell’s designs had clothed aristocrats and blur stars such as Vivien Leigh, Marlene Dietrich and Elizabeth Taylor, and from 1935 he had accustomed aristocratic commands to accouter the ladies of the Aristocratic Family.
He fabricated the accretion dress of the afresh Princess Elizabeth aback she affiliated Prince Philip, and in 1952 was allowable to architecture the 1953 dress for the coronation.
Pat’s ancestor took her to the account and she remembered what clinched the job.
“They asked me a few questions, afresh took my hands. They were cold,” she said. “That was what did it. You charge algid hands, because if they are bathed that will get on the clothes.”
She had consistently capital to assignment in the industry, accepting done some bed-making in school, but of advance she had to alpha at the basal in the bureaucracy of the workshop. Her aboriginal role was accession pins.
“Each one had to be bankrupt afore it was acclimated again,” she said. Afterwards she confused on to tracing, and afterwards formed on a blah glassy black dress akin with ermine. Her administrator was a French woman with assiduous standards – but Pat’s assignment on the dress afflicted her.
“She could not acquisition any accountability in it,” Pat recalled. “I was fabricated a duke and accustomed an assistant.”
Each affiliate of the Aristocratic Ancestors had a dress angle fabricated to their measurements, and while Pat said she contributed to abounding dresses beat by the Royals, one ablaze chicken day-dress sticks in her anamnesis because of its active tone.
“It was such a admirable colour,” she said.
One day the Queen Mother visited the workrooms at Hartnell’s to accommodated the bodies authoritative her clothes.
“She was lovely, she batten to everybody,” Pat said.
Pat met her husband-to-be Bernard aback she was aloof 16 – afterwards he spotted her beyond a Dagenham street, admitting they did not ally till she was 20. She advised and fabricated her own accretion dress, with a bustle at the back. She formed at Hartnell’s for about eight years, afore absitively it was time to move on.
The brace confused to Swindon in 1967, and had a son, Paul. Pat formed for Swindon children’s clothes maker Rob Roy, authoritative babyish coats by duke from home.
The brace were additionally agog dancers and went out dancing several times a week, and Pat fabricated their dancing outfits.
Although Pat can no best sew because of arthritis, she still enjoys afterward appearance and said she admired Kate Middleton’s accretion dress.
“It was admirable – absolutely lovely,” she said.
And with Christmas approaching, she remembered authoritative appropriate artist Christmas cards for Norman Hartnell, which he beatific to his claimed friends.
“All the agents had to accomplish them, out of fabric, every year. They were admirable – a lot of work.”
Some of those cards still survive and can be bought from specialist auctions – a baby allotment of appearance history.
Like the blow of the country Pat will be attractive advanced to seeing Meghan’s accretion dress aback she and Prince Harry ally in the bounce and belief is already abounding adjoin assorted designers from VIctoria Beckham to Alexander McQueen.
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