|Collection of the week: Hardy Amies|
Next week, Her Majesty The Queen celebrates her 94th birthday so we thought it fitting that we choose a regally-themed Collection of the Week. We have represented the Hardy Amies archive for some time at Mary Evans, which includes scores of his original designs made for the Queen as well as excellent photographs of Hardy Amies himself and his salon.
Born in Elgin Avenue, Maida Vale, London in 1909, Edwin Hardy Amies had no fashion training, but was influenced by his mother who had worked as a dressmaker, and then vendeuse at several court dressmakers before the Great War. He gained valuable business experience working in France and Germany after leaving school and was a salesman for the Avery weighing-machine company when contacts from his mother's old job recommended him to fashion house Lachasse, previously headed by the designer Digby Morton. He began initially as business manager but his interest in fashion led him to begin designing, producing his first collection in 1934. During the Second World War, Amies served in special operations, rising to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel as head of the Belgian section of the SOE. After the war, he went on to set up his own Savile Row salon and began to design clothes for the then Princess Elizabeth in 1951. He was appointed as royal dressmaker to H.M. the Queen in 1955 and knighted in 1989, the year he retired.
A debonair figure with an astute business brain, Amies was renowned for creating smart, understated clothes, in tune with current styles but with equal emphasis on longevity. It was a recipe for success, appealling to not only the Queen but many more high society customers. Hardy Amies once said of his royal patron, 'The Queen has the most perfect manners. She gives you her undivided attention and never makes a critical remark. The only sign of disapproval is a raising of her eyebrows…But you get the message.' He understood that while the Queen's wardrobe could faintly echo prevailing trends, she herself had to project a dignified image that rose above fashion. This intuitive understanding of his client, coupled with his timeless, tailored designs ensured his long tenure as the Queen's designer of choice.
We're sharing here a hit parade of royal designs including dresses from early royal tours, and iconic outfits such as the fuschia pink ensemble The Queen wore for her City of London walkabout during her Silver Jubilee and the full-length black lace gown designed for the State Visit to the Vatican in 1961.
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