Sir Hardy Amies, who passed away in 2003 at the age of 93, is said to be the longest living fashion designer, even outliving Coco Chanel, who died aged 88. Amies’ style is synonymous with timeless elegance, and is immortalized in the classically decorated, chandelier and mirror filled interior of his Savile Row premises – now a museum and archive in tribute to his memory. I was recently fortunate to catch the end of an exhibition held at the magnificent house, celebrating 100 years of Hardy Amies.
As well as vintage designs by Amies, the show featured personal memorabilia, including photographs of family and clients, sketches, fabric swatches, mementos of events and original ephemera from his years living and working in the rarified world of haute couture.
Best known for being designer to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, Sir Hardy was patronized by an international clientele that included royalty, film stars and the aristocracy.
Located in a street world renowned for men’s tailoring, his business served both men and women, and was very much the English equivalent of a traditional French couture house.
However, Amies was also involved with the production of rather less glamorous ‘utility clothing’ during World War II, eventually becoming Chairman of the Incorporated Society of London Fashion Designers. He was commissioned to create quite a number of uniforms as well, including this one for the airline BOAC.
Incidentally, the books you can see behind this mannequin are a complete set of original copies of Vogue Magazine, dating back to 1945. Apparently, the only other collection of this type is to be found at Vogue’s offices, but that is kept under lock and key.
My visit to the exhibition was by way of a reception, hosted by Fashion Group International (FGI), which has recently re-launched in the UK and is currently recruiting new members. Here are some photos from the event – including one of photographer, Mario Rebelo, alongside the Evening Standard’s outrageously dapper Maurice Mullen.
And here am I wearing a suitably eclectic mix of lovely tights by Bebaroque, plus vintage beaded bag, asymmetric quilted dress by Emma Cook and necklace from Biba (along with my cheap-but-chic chain store shoes). The fabulous hair accessory is made using recycled vintage jewellery, from a collection that will be available at ShopCurious later this month.
For more information about future events, plus some charming personal insights into the house of Amies, watch this short video of the speech given by FGI’s Janine Roxborough Bunce:
And, if you’re a fan of stylish, beautifully made, classic clothing, look out for our Hardy Amies giveaway – coming up very soon.