Ever since the 1920s, when as a young woman she had arrived in London from the Midlands determined to conquer high society, Barbara had been keenly aware of the importance of creating an original and recognisable image for herself. Although clever, she possessed neither outstanding beauty, nor an aristocratic lineage, nor indeed a remarkable bank balance; and thus it was that, by sheer force of character, along with a carefully orchestrated wardrobe, she began to infiltrate the glamorous world that she so wanted to be a part of.
Her style was always individual, inventive, and theatrical; and she would even design her own costumes for the fancy-dress balls that were in vogue at the time, once appearing as the Spirit of Champagne in a gown made entirely of cellophane (pictured top left). Not long thereafter she was to find another kindred spirit in a young fashion student by the name of Norman Hartnell, who would in time become a favorite of all British royal ladies, even designing the late Queen Elizabeth’s wedding dress and Coronation robes. But it was Barbara who gave Hartnell his first commission, her own wedding dress, even if, true to form, she knew exactly what she wanted, and jealously guarded the upper creative hand, knowing that what she sought - heavy frills at the skirt and around the sleeves - bore little relation to the streamlined aesthetic of the period.