Wallis in Wonderland – The Private Rooms and Enchanting Taste of the Duchess of Windsor

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  1. For those who are too young to remember the Windsor auction, your article will be a good historical reference to a controversial woman of style.

  2. i love the cleaver use of space in her bedroom. The niche with shelving then a small closet is so clever. I wonder what she stored in those closets

  3. Wonderful article….I, too have the auction catalog. There was always a great sense of curiosity about their private lives. However, in the end, there is an atmosphere of loneliness and waste in viewing their private spaces. What emptiness compels a couple to surround themselves with their own personal portraits in almost every room???? Bllly Graham once wrote, “I have never seen a hearse pulling a uhaul” That about sums it up !!! Virginia McMillan

    • One is fascinated and repulsed by them at the same time, right? This is an amazing collection of beautiful ‘things’, but I just hope that at the end of my life, that I am not defined by my possessions, but what I have done for others..

      • You were so correct, neither the Duke nor the Duchess were very philanthropic throughout their lives. Their final wish was that their possessions be sold at auction and the money be presented to the Louis Pasteur Institute in Paris. The pre-auction estimate was $7 million. In actuality, the auction brought in $51 million. And, it just so happens that the Louis Pasteur institute was the leading research facility for AIDS in the 1980s and beyond. So, they became great philanthropist unintentionally.

  4. Henri Samuel (Maison Jansen) certainly did a lovely job with that house. The Duchess didn’t always have the best taste, but she knew who to hire to make her look good and her house look good. Mainbocher did her wardrobe, and he knew exactly how to dress her. Emily Evans Eerdmans just did a book on Henri Samuel that’s worth a look, and it includes this house. I remember all the buzz about the sale, and went to have a look for myself. I was surprised that Al Fayed sold off their things. I guess he got tired of living in a museum. There is also a book by my friend, James Archer Abbott on Maison Jansen.

  5. This is wonderful!! Just bought the catalogs on ebay. Thanks so much for sharing your fascinating knowledge!!

  6. Bitter reminder of how Wallis tried to keep up homes like royal residences for David. They were big Nazi sympathizers which is why they were booted to the Bahamas during WW2. Very vapid lonely lives they spent most of their time Palm Beach etc to sponge off rich Americans who treated them like royalty instead the exiles they really were.

  7. I have always been intrigued by their lives. As another post said “empty and lonely” depicts them well. Decades ago they visited Roaring Gap …. in the NC mountains. Everyone was SO excited. Being very young (and cynical) I was perplexed. Hollow lives having to endure parties in a small NC enclave was a sad mystery to me.

    Adored looking at their interiors! Thank you so much! The details….my goodness! Will be purchasing one of the books. My mother had many books written about them complete with their personal photographs. What strikes me now is that no one stepped into the “pose” that is so common today. It was so refreshing to see their photo in the beginning of your post.

    My apologies….I am older now, however, still cynical.

  8. What a wonderful inside to the fab Paris apartment. What a different time. At the time it was described as the great romance of all but now, I wonder. I truly enjoyed this blog.

  9. Thank you Elizabeth. Just loved your Wallis in Wonderland article.
    What a beautifully written story to complement the amazing interiors.

  10. Great post !! The duchess was by all accounts a very charming woman who made living almost an artform. , And yes , you can say it was a somewhat shallow life.

  11. Fabulous! I am also an owner of the bound double book set of catalogues from this sale -think it was 1996 ?

    I will sell it for $500 if anyone wants to buy- (perfect like new condition)

  12. It’s easy to criticize the very rich, since their lives are very distant from ours. The choice to abdicate for the then King was painful. But, when you are trained for one job, and you leave it, the choices are slim. Their love and affection for each other endured.


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