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Hardy Amies & Norman Hartnell - Archives of Queen's fashion designers now represented by Mary Evans Picture Library

As the nation prepares to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee this June, Mary Evans Picture Library is delighted to announce they are now exclusively representing the prestigious archives of Hardy Amies and Norman Hartnell, the two most famous and prolific of royal couturiers.

The first 350 images from the archive are now available online and trace the development of the Queen's personal style from the 1930s to the 1990s, with hundreds of sketches building up a picture of Her Majesty's varied and impressive wardrobe. Among the highlights are the black lace dress and veil designed by Hardy Amies for the Queen's visit to the Vatican in 1961 and the cyclamen coat and dress designed for the 1976 Olympics. The outfit was worn again for the Silver Jubilee in 1977, together with a hat by milliner Freddie Fox decorated with 25 bells representing her 25 years on the throne.

The collection also includes the very first design by Norman Hartnell for the future Queen - a bridesmaid dress for the 1935 wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester. The famous 'Magpie' dress Hartnell made for the Queen to wear to the Royal Command Film Performance in 1951 is featured; copies of the striking design appeared in shops within days. And the magnificent Coronation gown from 1953, chosen from eight submitted designs and lavishly embellished with embroidered symbols of the British Isles and Commonwealth, is a centrepiece of this superb collection which has a particular, timely relevance as the Queen celebrates sixty years on the throne. Alongside the designers' sketches, many of them an excellent likeness of the Queen, are photographs looking at the history and heritage of the House of Hardy Amies, including portraits of the designer and scenes from catwalk shows, previews and fittings.

"Our reputation for historical fashion images has been boosted over the past years with the addition of archives such as the National Magazine Company (including Harper's Bazaar and Queen magazines) and that of fashion designer Victor Stiebel, another favourite of royalty," says Luci Gosling, Business Development Manager of Mary Evans Picture Library. "Hardy Amies has an archive with a particularly strong heritage and historical relevance and we feel privileged to be the exclusive representatives of the collection in the Diamond Jubilee year."

Sir Norman Bishop Hartnell KCVO (1901 - 1979) established himself as a trusted royal fashion designer after he designed a simple wedding dress in pearlised pink for Lady Alice Montagu-Douglas-Scott's marriage to the Duke of Gloucester in 1935. He became a favourite of Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mother) when he created a soft, romantic look for her in the 1930s, including the much-lauded 'White Wardrobe', designed for the royal visit to Paris in 1938. As the present Queen's first couturier, his credits include her Botticelli-inspired wedding dress in 1947 and her Coronation gown of 1953, described by Hartnell as the triumph of his career. His services to royal fashion were recognised in 1977 when he received the KVCO and was dubbed by the press, 'The First Knight of Fashion.'

Sir Edwin Hardy Amies KCVO (1909 - 2003) began his fashion career at Lachasse and Worth before setting up his own salon in 1945 at 14, Savile Row, funded by an early patron, Lady Jersey (aka Virginia Cherrill, Hollywood film star and the first Mrs Cary Grant). He was first summoned to Clarence House in 1950 after the then Princess Elizabeth had admired the Amies clothes worn by her lady-in-waiting, Lady Alice Egerton. He provided outfits for her first royal tour of Canada in 1951, and created many for the planned tour of Australia in 1952, a trip cut short by the death of King George VI. Renowned for exquisite, classic tailoring, Amies was awarded a Royal Warrant as official dressmaker in 1955 and received a knighthood in 1989. His creative vision saw him launch a men's ready-to-wear line for Hepworth's in 1959, stage the first ever menswear catwalk show at the Savoy Hotel in 1961 and together with his partner, Ken Fleetwood, design the costumes for Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey in 1968. A debonair dresser and astute businessman, Amies received numerous awards during his lifetime, not only for his designs for also for his polished dress sense and remained actively involved in his company until his retirement in 2001 at the age of 89.

The Norman Hartnell brand along with Hardy Amies were acquired by Fung Capital Europe in 2008 and both designers' archives are now held at the Hardy Amies building at 14, Savile Row in London, the home of bespoke British tailoring. The first 350 images from an archive of more than 4000 is now available at www.maryevans.com with more images to be added soon. An edited selection of images from the Norman Hartnell and Hardy Amies archives can be seen here.

For further information, please contact:
Luci Gosling
Mary Evans Picture Library
59 Tranquil Vale
London SE3 0BS, UK
T: +44 (0)20 8318 0034
F: +44 (0)20 8852 7211
E: luci.gosling@maryevans.com