Monday, May 20, 2024

Belinda Bellville, fashion designer who dressed British high society and the Royal family – obituary

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Belinda’s interest in fashion was inspired by her (divorced and remarried) paternal grandmother, Gladys “Cuckoo” Leith, who had run a dress shop in Savile Row in the 1920s. With clothes rationed during the war, Belinda helped her mother make garments out of whatever they could find, including old curtains.

Towards the end of the war, Belinda did a short stint at Miss Faunce’s school at Wimborne St Giles, Dorset. Six foot tall and elegant, in 1947 she was presented at court.

Determined to forge her own career in fashion at a time when there were few opportunities to study for design qualifications, Belinda Bellville dabbled in fashion journalism, assisted a fashion photographer and worked for a clothes shop in Bond Street.

In 1952 she married David Whately, a partner in a firm which made mobiles and abstract sculptures for advertising, and later a financier.

The following year, aged 23, she founded Bellville et Cie in partnership with Sydna Scott, who had a shop in Kinnerton Street, Knightsbridge. “The space was so small, it had an outside loo and I used to visit the neighbouring pub to design and sketch the dresses,” she recalled.

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