The controversial Mitford sisters really were a rather extraordinary bunch of women and last night’s event at the National Trust’s Sutton House, organised by Amy Grimehouse, completely did justice to each individual’s wild, wacky and intriguing personality.
Those unknowingly about to become completely obsessed with the sisters mingled with Mitford enthusiasts and sashayed around the incredible East London location in all manner of period dress from wannabe Bright Young Things to tweed ensembles and twinsets and pearls. There was further opportunity for dress-up in the Cecil Beaton style studio where props were grabbed and poses perfected to create stunning portraits of our newly styled bohemian crowd.
I had the pleasure of being “Mistress of the Mitford Arts and Crafts Table” and found myself surrounded by a constant hive of 1930s creativity as people adorned themselves with velvet, feathers and beads and created striking headdresses in abundance.
The climax to the evening was a screening of “Nancy Mitford: A Portrait By Her Sisters”, a fascinating and surprisingly hilarious documentary, screened with permission from the BFI, that gave a wonderful insight into the lives and relationships of all the Mitford family. The film was all the more enhanced by the informative panel discussion that proceeded it, where the experts (listed below) talked on all manner of topics from debutantes to fascism to pocket money and pets.
Never will there be again a bunch of siblings quite like these. And how better to pay tribute to them than with a thoroughly splendid and somewhat educational evening of decadence and frivolity. Amy Grimehouse, you are to be saluted once again!
The Mitford Panellists:
Mary Joannou is Professor of Women’s Writing and Literary History at Anglia Ruskin University. Mary has published on the fiction of Nancy Mitford.
Oriole Cullen is Fashion Curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum and curated the exhibitions including British Ballgowns and Hats.
Deidre Murphy is Curator at Historic Royal Palaces and was curator of The Last Debutantes exhibition at Kensington Palace and is also responsible for the Royal Dress Collection at Ken Palace.