ARTICLE TANIA FAROUKI
FOLLOWING LAST WEEK'S PREMIERE OF 'WHAT WOULD THEY BUY NOW?', MEET GEORGIANA CAVENDISH, DUCHESS OF DEVONSHIRE, OUR PAST ICON DU JOUR
Born Georgiana Spencer, the famed ancestor of Princess Diana of Wales was once Great Britain's most celebrated beauty. She married the Duke Devonshire on her seventeenth birthday (June 7th, 1774 to be exact) and in just a few years was catapulted into a symbol of fashion and feminism.
Known for throwing elaborate salons that gathered both literary and political figures, the duchess was among the first to question women's rights—long before the suffragettes appeared a century later. A glamourous political activist and writer on the side (she anonymously wrote The Sylph in 1779), Georgiana displayed her lavish taste by wearing intricate headpieces and dresses, a love for gambling (which later led to a fruitful debt) and still managed to conceive, after three children, an illegitimate love child with the 2nd Earl Grey.
Georgiana was perhaps best portrayed in Saul Dibb's 2008 biopic The Duchess, played by English rose Keira Knightley. With a screenplay based on the biography titled Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire by Amanda Foreman, the movie depicts Georgie as an incredibly strong and charismatic character, leaving no wonder as to why the entire country fell in love with her. One scene, which includes the duchess and a politico discussing the role of women in society, perhaps best captures her fearless and assertive personality:
Georgiana: I fail to comprehend how far we are fully committed to the concept of freedom.
Sir Peter Teazle: Freedom in moderation.
Georgiana: The concept of freedom is an absolute.
Had Georgie C been part of our crew today, she would have undoubtedly exhuded an enigmatic thirst for independence and been an avid supporter of female artists in all fields. Although she is the ultimate woman's woman, she has the soul of a rocker: Her style circa now might be Debbie Harry meets Daphne Guinness, ultimately professing an ever-growing admiration for opulence and craftsmanship alike. A fragile beauty? Scratch that—Georgie is tenacious.