Couture by Royal appointment: Hartnell to Amies
Yesterday was a ‘bleurgh’ Saturday. Constant rain, cold and miserable. I still managed to have a fab time away from the hustle and bustle of the pre-Christmas frenzy of the West End. I went to the Hartnell to Amies Exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum.
The exhibition is a retrospective of London designers Norman Hartnell and Hardy Amies.
Norman Hartnell (12 June 1901 – 8 June 1979)
Hartnell opened his own business at 10 Bruton Street, Mayfair in 1923 with the help of his father and sister Phyllis. He became the Queen Mother’s Royal dressmaker in 1940 and Queen Elizabeth’s in 1957.
Hartnell was still designing collections at his death in 1979. Although much quieter, the Hartnell design House also sold ready-to-wear, introduced in the 1950s, and was the source of merchandising,the many products ranging from scent to stockings, bags to costume jewellery and Hartnell mens-wear – also found in stores around the globe. His career truly began around 1920 up at Cambridge and so spanned six decades. It is unlikely that there will ever be such a House in London again, employing at its peak in the 1950s some 550 people in-house and many thousands more employed in allied ancillary trades.
Hardy Amies (17 July 1909 – 5 March 2003)
It was Amies’ vivid description of a dress, written in a letter to a retired French seamstress, which brought him to the attention of the owner of the Mayfair couture house Lachasse on Farm Street, Berkeley Square, as the wearer of the dress was the owner’s wife. He became managing director at the age of 25, in 1934.
In 1937, he scored his first success with a Linton tweed suit in sage green with a cerise overcheck called ‘Panic’. ‘Panic’ was to be his debut into the fashion bible Vogue and was photographed by Cecil Beaton. By the late 1930s, Hardy was designing the entire Lachasse collection. His second celebration creation was ‘Made in England’, a biscuit-coloured checked suit for the Hollywood ingénue Mildred Shay. He left Lachasse in 1939 and joined the House of Worth in 1941.
In 1967, Amies was commissioned by director Stanley Kubrick to design the costumes for his film 2001: A Space Odyssey.
I loved this exhibition. Not everything was to my taste but all together, just scrumptious & fabulous.
I felt inspired to design and sew some fabulous-ness of my own. ♥
Best of all I took loads of photos.
The exhibition is on till 23rd January 2013
Nearest station: London Bridge