British fashion designer and dressmaker to the British Royal Family. He received a knighthood in 1977. Born in Streatham, London, the son of a grocer, Hartnell attended Magdalene College, Cambridge, but left after two years to become a clerk in a London dress shop. In 1923 he opened his own business in Bruton Street, Mayfair, and started designing and making dresses for his friends and acquaintances. His first Paris show in 1927 was shunned by the French but provided him with an opening into the US market. By the early 1930s his reputation as a leading young designer was well established and his imaginative use of embroidery and sequins featured in designs for leading actresses, such as Gertrude Lawrence. A commission to design the Duchess of Gloucester's wedding dress in 1935 was followed by a request from Queen Mary for some Hartnell dresses. In 1938 he became dressmaker by appointment to Queen Elizabeth, now Elizabeth the Queen Mother. World War II saw Hartnell's talent turned to the design of utility garments, making economical use of scarce materials. He designed the wedding gown for the marriage of Princess Elizabeth in 1947 and in 1953 was responsible for her coronation dress and the new coronation robes for many peers and peeresses. He was retained as royal dressmaker by Queen Elizabeth II. His autobiography, Silver and Gold, was published in 1955.
From Who's Who in the Twentieth Century in Oxford Reference.
Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).