Hardy Amies

Vanessa Semmens

Designer Biography

DOI: 10.5040/9781474260428-FPA352

Sir Hardy Amies with model and actress Carmen Dell’Orefice. Niall McInerney, Photographer © Bloomsbury Publishing Plc

The House of Hardy Amies was founded in 1946 at 14 Savile Row in London, where it had workrooms and a grand salon to receive clients; the building remains the flagship store. The house had been a bombed-out shell at the end of the Second World War and Amies was given low rent for the first two years in exchange for his refurbishment of the premises. Hardy Amies was born in 1909 and before the war worked at both Lachasse and Worth. His couture business in Savile Row catered for both sexes; he is also known for promoting ready-to-wear for men and saying: “A man should look as if he had bought his clothes with intelligence, put them on with care and then forgotten all about them.”

In 1946 a rule of silence was instigated in the workrooms to aid concentration and in 1951 Amies produced exclusive designs for Woman magazine. By 1957 he had started to focus more on ready-to-wear, as handwork was dying out. In 1961 the ready-to-wear business was sold to the textile company Selincourt, with Amies keeping artistic control. This is because Amies thought the couture side was more vital to the brand. The milliner Frederick Fox started to design hats to accompany the collections in 1968.

In the 1960s, Amies’s menswear line garnered him new attention, and he started to focus more on this and licensing: by 1980 there were forty Hardy Amies Ltd. licenses. From the 1960s, Kenneth Fleetwood would create the women’s designs with Amies creatively directing the choices. Fleetwood, a graduate of Saint Martin’s School of Art, became design director of the house in 1974 until his death in 1996.

HRH Princess Elizabeth placed her first order with the house in 1951 and bestowed a royal warrant in 1955. In 1961 the company put on ready-to-wear catwalk shows at the Ritz Hotel in London. Amies published a book, the ABC of Men’s Fashion, in 1964. Debenhams bought the company in 1973, with Amies keeping one-third of the business; however, Amies bought it back in 1981. In 1990 a lot of the design archive was destroyed, unless it was linked to Queen Elizabeth.

Amies also did costumes for films, including Maytime in Mayfair (1949), The Grass is Greener (1960), Two for the Road (1967) and 2001: A Space Odyssey. The company was sold to Luxury Brands Conglomerate in 2001; in the same year, Hardy Amies retired and Ian Garlant became the creative director. Hardy Amies died in 2003, but the house continues on. The brand was bought in 2008 by Fung Capital Europe. Claire Malcolm has headed the menswear design team at Hardy Amies since 2010.

References and Further Reading

Find in Library Amies Hardy. ABC of Men’s Fashion . London : V&A Publishing, 2009 [1964].

Find in Library Chilvers S. ““How to Dress Like Hardy Amies.”” The Guardian , 31 July 2009 .

“Fashion in Motion: Hardy Amies.” Victoria and Albert Museum, April 2006. www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/f/fashion-in-motion-hardy-amies/

Hardy Amies. Web site. www.hardyamies.com

“No Rescue for Hardy Amies Company.” BBC News online, 10 October 2008. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/7664113.stm