Why I bring back my ‘most beautiful knitwear’
George and I created so many sweaters together – mostly unique pieces to wear on TV (and on stage: in the late 1980s he created a whole knit wardrobe for me to wear as a Baron Hardup ââin Cinderella with Barbara Windsor and Bonnie Langford); a few were models that George sold in the Kensington store; quite a few ended up in the four jumper pattern books we created together. George was the knitwear designer and craftsman. I came up with the fun ideas – draw them for George and send them to him, either by fax or, literally, drawn on the back of an envelope.
For a while it was a family business, with my wife and kids suggesting design ideas. At the time, I was president of one of the Duke of Edinburgh’s charities (the National Playing Fields Association) and my son, who was seven, had the idea to have me make a frog sweater. so that I can wear it when presenting HRH. to a charitable fundraiser. âIf you keep going first,â my son said, âand then he continues, the audience will see a frog turn into a prince. Because it was the idea of ââa seven-year-old, Prince Philip readily accepted it.
The sweaters had a number of famous admirers including Sir Elton John and Joanna Lumley, some of whom have appeared in our books. The frog and, perhaps even more memorable, a banana sweater were modeled by a young Christopher Biggins. Another of my favorite role models was children’s television presenter, Floella Benjamin, now a Baroness in the House of Lords.
Diana, Princess of Wales was a regular customer of the Kensington Church Street store. Her favorite sweater was the one that said “I am a luxury” on the front and “… Few Can Afford” on the back. When I saw a picture of the princess in the sweater pushing her boys on a swing, I thought, “This is unreal.” When I met Diana at a reception in the House of Commons in the early 1990s and she said to me, âLook, I’m still carrying you! I thought, “This is beyond the unreal.”