Tuesday, October 23, 2018

DAY 91: Lady in Red

John Singer Sargent, Mrs. Charles E. Inches, 1887, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Jennie was a spectator at Aintree when Charles Kinsky won the Grand National in March 1883, but it's unclear when the two actually met. I imagine them at Sandringham, the Prince of Wales's Norfolk estate, on a rainy evening in April. 

Bertie, as his friends were allowed to call him, enjoyed the independence of the American women in his Marlborough House Set; and he also loved their style. 

Charles Frederick Worth, who designed the 1883 red and black evening dress shown here, made the most gorgeous and expensive gowns in the world, and he dressed innumerable wealthy American women. Princess Alix, Bertie's wife, was forbidden to wear Worth. Her mother-in-law, Queen Victoria, decreed that patronizing a French-based milliner was unpatriotic. 

No lady would dream of wearing the same gown twice. And as gowns were changed four times a day at least, that meant a single five-day visit to Sandringham could require twenty different costumes, complete with matching shoes, hats, gloves, pocketbooks, and jewelry.

But Sandringham collected the most influential political figures of the day, debating at Bertie's dinner table. Jennie's commanding presence in the group depended far more on her wit and intelligence than her parade of clothes.

For more images from THAT CHURCHILL WOMAN, visit the  Pinterest board behind the novel.

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