Hermès' bespoke creations for Wallis Simpson
For the woman who "had everything"
"Edward came to the store in Faubourg [Saint-Honoré] and he was looking for a gift for her," said a Hermès spokeswoman, speaking of the piece on show at the Forever Leather exhibition shown in London in 2012. "He was asking advice from one of the salespeople and they said, 'What about fragrances,' and he said she had wheelbarrows of them. The salesperson said, 'What about the gloves then?' He said, 'It's just same thing: she has wheelbarrows of them.'
"The window designer at the time, Annie Beaumel, heard them speaking and said, 'If she [referring to the duchess] has all of these, why don't you get a wheelbarrow then?' And he said, 'Why not...'"
And so the tale goes. The black patent cow-skin piece, made in 1947 complete with brass handles, drawers and leather-upholstered wheels, went on display in the UK for the first time as part of the Hermès' showcase, it measures 140cm by 50cm by 50cm, was not designed for the garden but was in fact a decorative present filled with perfume and gloves - and it stared something of a tradition between the couple and the famed fashion house.
Other pieces that Hermès custom made for Wallis and Edward that featured in the free exhibition included a 1950s black cow-skin and Royal Stuart tartan blotter bearing the duke's initial 'E'. In the 1940s, he also commissioned a sporran and green leather belt with an engraved silver-plated buckle including the badge of the Prince of Wales. The duchess's leather Chaîne d'Ancre handbag, featuring the intertwined initials 'WE', also made an appearance.