The American fashion editor who married a laird

Frances Farquharson,wth her hubsand, 16th Baron of Invercauld,
Frances Farquharson,wth her hubsand, 16th Baron of Invercauld,
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She was the American fashion editor who married a Highland laird – and went on to paint his family seat sugar pink.

Frances Farquharson, wife of 16th Baron of Invercauld, arrived in Deeside in the late 1940s , having spent her life up until then as a journalist with British Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar.

Locals found her a little extraordinary and outre

Dr Sheila Sedgewick, historian and archivist

She met her husband, Captain Alwyne Compton Farquharson, as he recuperated from injuries inflicted during WWII at his father’s home in Yorkshire.

Frances was asked if she could visit Braemar Castle to help organise its contents and the two soon fell in love and married, with another colourful chapter in Deeside history to begin.

Dr Sheila Sedgewick, the Farquharson’s family archivist, spent frequent afternoons with the Lord and Lady taking coffee at their home, Invercauld House, near Braemar.

Dr Sedgewick said: “She was very lively and outgoing, she was very likeable but the locals found her a little extraordinary and outre.”

Lady Farquharsons’s style remained her signature as she made her new home.

“She was always dressed in tartan, dripping in tartan,” Dr Sedgewick recalled.

In Braemar, Lady Farquharson filled her time with running a small theatre group and selling gifts in a former village hall in Braemar, which was owned by the family.

“It was top of the market stuff, really for tourists, a few trinkets but really mainly fairly well designed clothes. It was more like a gallery really. Being with Vogue, she had contacts all over,” Dr Sedgewick said.

Mrs Farquharson, was famously friends with Elsa Schiaparelli, the Italian designer and rival to Coco Chanel, who would often visit Invercauld.

Schiaparelli is said to have created the colour shocking pink – or at least pioneered its use in fashion - with Mrs Farquharson inspired to paint a large outdoor larder at Invercauld in a similar hue.

It has been remembered as a beautiful sight, particularly on snowy days.

The bathroom at Braemar Castle, where the married couple lived a short while, was painted like a pot of creamy rouge.

Schiaparelli is said to have loved her time in Scotland and went onto design several pieces inspired by her time with the Farquharsons, including a belted evening gown in Ogilvy tartan, emblazoned with Jacobite-supporting clan’s motto ‘No One Provokes Me With Impunity’.

Mrs Farquharson, often sported a turban for dinner, and was often draped in fine silks and colourful prints. She became a famous entertainer, with Invercauld open at all times to guests.

Ms Sedgewick recalled: “She wasn’t particularly beautiful, much shorter than the Laird, but was forceful in personality and character.”

When she died in 1991 she was buried in Crathie Old Kirk yard, one of her bonnets placed on the coffin

Later, much of her wardrobe was donated Aberdeen Art Gallery – with pieces from Schiaparelli at the heart of the collection.