Husband Sir Leigh Ashton, Partner Dorothy Todd

Queer Places:
Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Rd, Knightsbridge, London SW7 2RL, UK

Image result for Madge GarlandMadge Garland (née McHarg, 12 June 1898 – 15 July 1990) was an influential figure in the British fashion scene, who made her name as a fashion journalist and editor working for, among others, Vogue and Women's Wear Daily. From journalism, she moved into a business role during wartime, later advising the British fashion industry and helping to form the London Fashion Group – a forerunner to the British Fashion Council. After Margaret Jourdain's death, Ivy Compton-Burnett had some female crushes, the last one being on Madge Garland.

In 1948, she founded the first fashion course at the Royal College of Art, helping to develop a rigorous academic framework with a strong industry focus. Robert O'Byrne described Garland as among the female pioneers who: "battled to have fashion design taken more seriously, in particular fighting for academic acknowledgment".[2]

Garland's obituary in The Times noted: "She was no society featherhead, but a key figure in the history of British fashion journalism, the British fashion industry and the training of fashion designers."[3]

Garland's private life was shrouded in secrecy during her lifetime and subject to some scandal.[11] Lisa Cohen's 2012 book All We Know: Three Lives describes Garland and Dorothy Todd as life partners.[16] Their relationship is said to have inspired Frederick Ashton's first short ballet A Tragedy of Fashion.[17] Garland's earlier brief marriage – described as an escape – was to an admirer Ewart Garland. Years later she would recount sending him a telegram from a hospital bed asking him to come and marry her immediately.[4] In 1953, she married Sir Leigh Ashton, an old friend and director of the Victoria and Albert Museum.[4] This has been described as a marriage of convenience, as Ashton was also gay.[18] The marriage was over after a year, but the couple did not divorce until 1962 – Garland retained the name Lady Ashton for formal purposes.[3] She had no children.[19]

NPG P456; Madge Garland - Portrait - National Portrait Gallery
Madge Garland, 1927, by Cecil Beaton

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