“Day clothes must look equally good at Salisbury station as the Ritz bar; our customer always has one foot in the country, one in town” – Sir Hardy Amies
So after an accident in the shower, a result of being VERY jet lagged, I have now broken my toe. This month was going so well for me but before all these unfortunate incidents, I visited Hardy Amies on Savile Row.
Don, the Head of PR, for the brand showed me around the store, and the museum, which, is by appointment only. Whilst it is open to the public by booking a slot, I can see why. It is stuffed full of treasures and heritage items ranging from one of HM The Queen’s dresses (taken in and up for the mannequin), pictures of Presidents, Royals, film stars of old, photographs and a great selection of mood boards and sketches.
The bulk of the collection is stored away, but just the hand full of items I saw gave me a great insight into the house and the man – learning things that no book could tell you. For example, Amies and HM The Queen were very good friends, and whilst in public she was diplomatically indifferent towards him, in private they had a right old good time. And whilst many didn’t believe the story that he gave her a stuffed toy every Christmas, it is confirmed in a very personal letter – headed from Sandringham, HM The Queen’s private house in Norfolk – saying thank you and how this particular one is sitting along side the rest of ‘the family’.
Before I forget, a big thank you to Don for giving me a copy of the ABC of Men’s Fashion, by Amies which I have been reading – it’s not just a book, it’s a bible. So a big thank you!
On the second floor of the building is a grand salon that, at one end, is some very luxurious and opulent seating, houses a selection of dresses from a stunning ball gown worn by HRH Princess Michael of Kent and the aforementioned dress of HM The Queen. Off that to the rear is a small anti-room that houses, bound and preserved, the largest collection of British Vogue’s in the world. Collected by Amies, who would originally skip school on the day of it’s publishing, he later bought one for himself and one to store. As far as i can remember, it starts from 1938 until his death in 2003 and I was told by Don that Alexandra Shulman told Amies how envious she was of his collection that rivaled their collection up the road in Vogue House.
In the main exhibition room, there are stacks of sketches, such as the cancelled one above, including the Californian poppy dress worn by HM The Queen to California, and the engagement dress worn by the late Diana, Princess of Wales. There is also his diary and address book that gives a great insight into the mind of a master craftsman.
And one thing I learned was that it is the only ‘house’ on the street with the work room on the top floor. Walking down Savile Row, you can see the workrooms of the tailors in the basement, but Amies wanted it akin to French couture houses. And I think that defines the company perfectly.