Recapture the Duke and the Duchess’ style – ‘The Windsor Style’ by Suzie Menkes (1987)
Dear readers, back in earlier this year I have learnt about a great news, especially if you are those who obsessed with the style of Duke and Duchess of Windsor, is that the grand mansion which they once lived in Paris, the Villa Windsor, located at 4 Rte du Champ d'Entraînement, Bois de Boulogne, will be opened to public in around mid 2024! In another words, we can finally able to revisit the glamour and the flamboyant lifestyle of the former late British king and his tasteful (also somehow controversial) late American wife, the legendary socialite and Duchess of Windsor, Ms. Wallis Simpson. I have been obsessed with their style (and life) especially after watching the movie ‘W.E.’, and I was crazy enough to pay a visit when I was in Paris few years ago at their residence (just at the outside as I cannot get in; it’s still a private property, which owned by the city of Paris and leased to the recently-passed-away Egyptian businessman, Mr. Mohamed Al-Fayed, even until now) located in Bois de Boulogne, by just walking around the outside (which makes me a bit like a stalker in day time) I was thrilled enough to get myself closer to feel the stylish aura of this legendary couple, and experience a bit of their noble flair, high society glamour and lifestyle.
Although the villa will only be opened for public starting mid next year, the craving of the Duke and the Duchess’s style keep flashing back in my head again and again, before I could be able to go back and visit the inside of the residence, I need something that can satisfy my craving at least temporarily, out of the blue I came across a book which was published decades ago titled ‘The Windsor Style’ written by esteemed British fashion journalist, Ms. Suzy Menkes; I instantly bought a copy online and now am glad to have this copy at my hands.
Published in 1987 by Grafton, this book is by far the most comprehensive copy that I came across, which gathered the details of the life of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, in particular, during their time spending in this grand residence, throughout each chapters, one can discover the sumptuous, classic and tasteful interior inside the Villa Windsor, then having a closer look into the closet of the couple, including the luxurious jewelry (such as the legendary gem-set Cartier cross bracelet) and shoes collection of the Duchess, and the impeccable, classic and quintessential English wardrobe of the Duke; besides the visual tour inside their beautiful home, this book also covered some of snapshot of their life and style in the French Riviera, as well as their pastime spending with their beloved dogs.
To me, this book is undoubtedly a fascinating and enjoyable read despite the photos inside is dated, but seeing these valuable and rare pictures, it really serves as a perfect virtual tour for me to take a look the inside of the grand mansion in a more intimate way, also, it helps to put me into the stylish couple’s shoes to experience their once tasteful and glamorous lifestyle (also their hardship, challenges and sacrifice to live their lives) that the couple once had, although going through their journey from the abdication to the exile, then subsequently the WWII which forces they both went through the unstable settlement until the war ends, their passion about living a great life with tasteful things around them is always fascinating and inspiring even after decades later, especially for those who are obsessed with great royal style and one of the greatest love story of the century (despite it might seem surreal and unrealistic to some). Sometimes I do have a crazy thought that if both the Duke and Duchess are still alive, I hope that I can have a chance to meet them, and learn more about their sensibility, knowledge and skills about living a fabulous, noble and sophisticated aristocratic life, starting from selecting and assembling an impeccable outfit with his Prince-of-Wales tailored suit, to the high-standard and elegant in-house entertaining technique with their exquisite glittering crystalware and tableware, furnished with fresh and fragrant bouquet that dazzles their guests to make them feel memorable and privilege whenever they threw their elegant soirée.
Besides, I am also keen on finding how they live their life and overcome the obstacles and trauma that they have encountered, the bittersweet sacrifice that they have made, what’s in their mind and how they become so determine, so unapologetically and bravely to face them upfront despite all the accusation and criticism, especially right after the exile and during WWII, but still hanging on their steadfast commitment to love each other no matter what. Living a great life is not merely about the outer glittering and beauty, but also the inner cultivation from being a mature and compassionate human being, to be more cultured and civilized despite the chaos and turmoil out there, to be resilient and perseverance to keep bettering oneself constantly, day by day, in any aspect of life, from personal style to self-cultivation and so on.
Just before I can make my dream come true to go inside into the Villa, and read those heartfelt, intimate hand-written letters by the Duke himself to the Duchess like Wally Winthrop did in ‘W.E.’ with her chic Parisian-style outfit, by reading this book it helps to ease my craving at least for the moment, along with staring at those photos that I took from the outside of residence years ago and drowning myself in one of my beloved music from the movie ‘W.E.’’s soundtrack – ‘Charms’ by Abel Korzeniowski.