A wheelbarrow fit for a duchess
The leather contraption is among the Hermès creations for Edward and Wallis shown in a new exhibit
Sunday 29 April 2012
Many of us have struggled with the dilemma of what to get the woman who has everything. For the Duke of Windsor, out shopping for Wallis Simpson, the answer became bizarrely clear: a leather wheelbarrow.
Stumped as to what to buy his wife, the duke took the advice of staff at French fashion house Hermès in Paris. As the duchess already had "wheelbarrows" of fragrances and gloves, he commissioned a wheelbarrow instead.
The black patent cow skin piece, made in 1947 complete with brass handles, drawers and leather-upholstered wheels, is going on display in the UK for the first time next month as part of Hermès' free Leather Forever exhibition at 6 Burlington Gardens in London. The wheelbarrow, which measures 140cm by 50cm by 50cm, was not designed for the garden but was a decorative present filled with perfume and gloves.
"Edward came to the store in Faubourg [Saint-Honoré] and he was looking for a gift for her," said a Hermès spokeswoman. "He was asking advice from one of the salespeople and they said, 'What about fragrances,' and he said she had wheelbarrows of them. The salesperson said, 'What about the gloves then?' He said, 'It's just same thing: she has wheelbarrows of them.'
"The window designer at the time, Annie Beaumel, heard them speaking and said, 'If she [the duchess] has all of these, why don't you get a wheelbarrow then?' And he said, 'Why not.'"
Other pieces Hermès custom made for the couple that will feature in the free exhibition include a 1950s black cow skin and Royal Stuart tartan blotter bearing the duke's initial "E". In the 1940s, he commissioned a sporran and green leather belt with an engraved silver-plated buckle with the badge of the Prince of Wales. The duchess's leather Chaîne d'Ancre handbag, featuring the intertwined initials "WE", will also be on display.
Founded by Thierry Hermès in Paris in 1837 as a house of harness-making and later saddle-making, Hermès, best known today for its designer handbags, is celebrating its 175th anniversary this year. The exhibition, which runs from 8 to 27 May, will explore the company's history across 11 rooms and craftspeople will demonstrate how they hand make its leather bags.
One room will be dedicated to two of its most coveted bags: the Kelly, named after the actress Grace Kelly, and the Birkin, named after the singer and actress Jane Birkin.
To celebrate the exhibition, Hermès has created four unique versions of its Passe-Guide handbag representing England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, which Christie's is auctioning online next month. Proceeds from the sale will be donated to the Royal Academy of Arts.
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
- 1 Game of Thrones author George RR Martin says 'f*** you' to fans who fear he will die before finishing Westeros saga
- 2 PornHub begs users to stop uploading video clips of Brazil getting beaten 7-1
- 3 Why I'm on the brink of burning my Israeli passport
- 4 L'Oreal cuts ties with Belgium supporter Axelle Despiegelaere after hunting trip photographs
- 5 The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week
Game of Thrones author George RR Martin says 'f*** you' to fans who fear he will die before finishing Westeros saga
Loom bands: Bids for dress made from colourful rubber pass £170,000 on eBay
Supermoon 2014: When and why will the moon look bigger and brighter this summer?
Gaza-Israel conflict: The terrible price Palestinian children are paying for Israel’s war with Hamas
Rotten egg smell could help battle heart disease and Alzheimer's
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
War is war: Why I stand with Israel
7/7 memorial defaced on anniversary of 2005 attacks with ‘Blair lied thousands died’ graffiti
Australia facing international condemnation after turning around Sri Lankans at sea
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
Socialist Worker called to apologise over ‘vile’ article saying Eton schoolboy Horatio Chapple's death is ‘reason to save the polar bears’
£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...
£60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...
£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...
£60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Trade Desk Specialist (FIX, Linux, Windows...