Prince Edward and the Astaires
In 1923, the dynamic young brother-sister ballroom dance duo Adele and Fred Astaire headed from New York to London to launch their latest show “For Goodness Sake”, setting off internationally for the first time. Later renamed "Stop Flirting”, the show was an instant success in the West End, receiving a standing ovation on opening night at the Shaftsbury Theatre.
The success of "Stop Flirting" propelled the Astaires onto the 1920’s London social scene, into the orbit of the aristocracy and eventually royalty. Edward, Prince of Wales attended 10 performances and went on to befriend the duo, hosting them for dinner at York House, his London residence.
Much like Prince Edward, the charismatic Adele enjoyed London's nightlife. She felt entirely within her element in London society, whether teaching dance steps to the Prince of Wales or as the weekend guest at some of England's finest historic homes.
As for Fred, he was drawn to the sophisticated manner of dress of the UK audiences, an opulence unseen since the years between the wars - men in white ties and ladies in their finest jewels. He shared an interest in fashion with Prince Edward, who with his distinguished dress sense was a major influence on Fred in terms of personal style and the importance of elegant bearing, whether the occasion was formal or casual. During this time Fred acquired a wardrobe from Edward’s own tailors (including Hawes & Curtis and Anthony & Sheppard) and cultivated an air of sophistication inspired by the Prince that he retained for the rest of his life.
Ultimately, Adele met and fell in love with Lord Charles Cavendish, the second son of the Duke of Devonshire, and after dancing with Fred for 27 years, she retired from the stage and married Lord Charles, settling at Lismore Castle in Ireland. Meanwhile Fred went on to form his legendary partnership with Ginger Rogers for which he is best remembered today.
Puttin' On the Ritz: Fred Astaire and the Fine Art of Panache by Peter Levinson.