Once upon a time
People say I am one of the most exciting and scintillating personalities in the European fashion world as my life’s story goes from a sheltered existence as the offspring of English aristocracy to the whirl of the London boheme in the 1920s to a role in the dolce vita of Rome to resounding success in the 1960s and 70s garment industry - It seems I have had it all: a biography almost too glamorous to be true, which reads like a gripping novel about the major fast-track events of the twentieth century. Drama and destiny define the very origins of me and I never ceased to reinvent myself, time after time.
My mother, Marina, was the daughter of Sir Harold Bosworth, a steel tycoon knighted for his services to the Crown and who also served the wharfs in the north of the kingdom, among them Harland & Wolff, the company that built the Titanic.
Fate would have it that 18-year-old Marina - with my grand aunt aunt as chaperone, and two maids in tow - left Southampton on none other than this ocean liner on 10 April 1912, with a view to meeting a distant cousin in the USA, whom my grandparents had taken in their sights as a potential good match.
Marina was the only one of her party to survive the maritime tragedy and arrived thus in New York all on her ownsome. Before traveling on to our relatives she made the acquaintance of the dashing British cultural attache, Reginald Browns, to whose care all the British shipwreck survivors had been entrusted. She fell in love on the spot with this sophisticated countryman, only slightly older than she, and telegraphed her parents that the foreseen marriage would unfortunately be unable to take place, since she had now fallen in love with someone else.
After Marina’s six-month sojourn in New York and a flurry of transatlantic diplomacy my grandparents finally agreed to the marriage - after all, their enquiries had revealed the supposedly penniless aesthete to be sole heir to a great-uncle who had made a fortune in Argentina dealing in property and cattle. The wedding the following year in London was the social event of the season and only a few months later the first of the eventual total of four children made his advent in the world: Me, Alfred “Alfie” Browns.