A signed drawing by legendary fashion designer Norman Hartnell of a dress specially designed for Princess Margaret.

Royal fashion designer Norman Hartnell’s signed dress concepts for Princess Margaret and the Queen Mother in Lichfield auction

SIGNED drawings by Royal fashion designer Norman Hartnell of concepts for dresses for Princess Margaret and the Queen Mother are coming up for auction in Lichfield.

The designs are among nine discovered in the Barton area during a routine valuation enquiry – a find estimated to be worth around £1,000.

They go under the hammer in Richard Winterton Auctioneers’ Fine Art Sale on Wednesday, February 15, starting at 9.30am at The Lichfield Auction Centre.

Leading British fashion designer Sir Norman (1901-1979) was best known for his bespoke outfits for ladies of the Royal Family, especially Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.

Catalogued for auction across four lots, they include two signed pencil, watercolour and gouache drawings titled ‘Specially designed for HRH The Princess Margaret’.

One is of a black dress and jacket with two fabric swatches pinned to the top left corner, the other (pictured top) is a 1950s full skirt dress in claret with blue embellished elbow length cuffs.

‘Delivered’ is pencilled on the former and the latter is inscribed ‘Reject 11’.

Senior valuer Sarah Williams inspects the Norman Hartnell dress designs for Princess Margaret.
Senior valuer Sarah Williams with the Norman Hartnell dress designs for Princess Margaret.

Another signed pencil and watercolour design is annotated ‘Specially designed for HM The Queen’ – most likely Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.

This creation is a peach and brown – probably fur – trimmed dress and coat with matching hat, bag, gloves and shoes and is inscribed ‘No 3’.

Another lot features two signed pencil, watercolour and gouache dress designs.

One, for the English actress Olga Lindo (1899-1968), is of a lilac evening dress with yellow trained coat and belt.

The other, inscribed ‘No 19’, has a typed slip of paper clipped to it reading ‘Dinner dress with full gathered back of black taffeta and straight front of black velvet’.

A Norman Hartnell design for Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.
A Norman Hartnell design for Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.

The final lot features four signed dress designs, two pencil and watercolours of floral full length evening dresses from the 1940s and 1950s era.

One of these is inscribed ‘Specially designed for Nanty Frocks Inc.’ and the other has ‘when a princess’ written in pencil on the back.

The other two designs, both signed in felt pen as opposed to the pencil signatures adorning the others, are ink and watercolour sketches from the late 1960s/70s era comprising a cream knee length dress called ‘Double Cream’ and a full length A-line dress with wide sleeves named ‘Scarlet Lady’.

Eight of the nine designs are on paper measuring 35.5cm x 25.5cm; the ‘Scarlet Lady’ sketch measures 32cm x 21.8cm.

Top: Two signed pencil, watercolour and gouache Norman Hartnell dress designs, one for English actress Olga Lindo. Another lot features Hartnell designs for four dresses and spans the 1940s to the late 1960s.
Top: Two signed pencil, watercolour and gouache Norman Hartnell dress designs, one for English actress Olga Lindo. Another lot features Hartnell designs for four dresses and spans the 1940s to the late 1960s.

Senior valuer Sarah Williams said: “What a wonderful thought that these very designs may have been held by Princess Margaret or Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.

“We particularly liked the fact that one of the designs for Princess Margaret has the material attached so she could feel the fabric and get a vivid image of the proposed design.

“We also love that the collection spans the decades from the 1940s to the late 1960s early 1970s, showing the development women’s fashion.”

Sir Norman, who was knighted in 1977, first gained a Royal Warrant as Dressmaker to Queen Elizabeth (the Queen mother) in 1940.

These two signed drawings by legendary fashion designer Norman Hartnell are titled ‘Specially designed for HRH The Princess Margaret’. One has two fabric swatches pinned to it.
Two signed drawings by legendary fashion designer Norman Hartnell for Princess Margaret, one with two fabric swatches pinned to it. Inset: The drawings are signed ‘Specially designed for HRH The Princess Margaret’.

At the behest of the Queen Mother, Sir Norman created the wedding dress of the then Princess Elizabeth in 1947 for her marriage to Prince Philip and also created her going-away outfit and trousseau.

He later designed the Queen’s 1953 Coronation gown and the wedding dress of her sister, Princess Margaret, in 1960.

He received another Royal Warrant as Dressmaker to Queen Elizabeth II in 1957.

Princess Beatrice also wore a dress designed for Queen Elizabeth by Hartnell for her wedding in 2020.

Senior valuer Sarah Williams inspects the Norman Hartnell dress designs for Princess Margaret.
Senior valuer Sarah Williams: “What a wonderful thought that these very designs may have been held by Princess Margaret.”

Richard Winterton Auctioneers’ Fine Art Sale takes place on Wednesday, February 15, at The Lichfield Auction Centre, Fradley Park, WS13 8NF.

The sale starts at 9.30am and the digital catalogue can be viewed online a week before.

For viewing or valuation enquiries, telephone 01543 251081 or email office@richardwinterton.co.uk.

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