Creating The Queen’s Style

Thursday 9 June / 6–8pm


With Michael Pick

Discover the consummate skills of British designers celebrated for their role in creating a powerful and fashionable image for Queen Elizabeth II.

This highly-illustrated talk delineates the 20th century British couture designs of Norman Hartnell, Hardy Amies and Ian Thomas. Together with milliners such as Aage Thaarup and Frederick Fox plus shoe makers H&M Rayne, these designs reflect the timeless elegance of post-war fashion and London as an international fashion centre boosted by royal patronage.

When the 27-year-old Princess Elizabeth ascended the throne in February 1952, she had already chosen Hartnell and Amies to create her wardrobe. Both had proved their capabilities in designs worn by her as Heiress Presumptive at home and abroad.

Hartnell was world famous for the designs worn from the 1930s onwards by Queen Elizabeth as consort of George VI and then as The Queen Mother. He revived his fame by designing her daughter’s wedding dress in 1947 and was the natural choice to design the Queen’s Coronation Dress of 1953 – the iconic dress of the mid-twentieth century. For the subsequent Royal Tour of the Commonwealth (November 1953–May 1954) Hartnell provided the majority of the day and evening clothes, and his superb evening dresses were often embroidered by his famous in-house team of needlewomen

The younger Hardy Amies first supplied the Queen in 1951. Famous for elegant tailored day-wear and restrained evening dresses, sometimes embroidered by Lock & Company, his designs were a foil to those of Hartnell. Having trained at Lachasse, noted for well-cut suits and daywear, Amies most admired the simple lines and cut of clothes by Edward Molyneux, a favourite of the Queens aunt, Princess Marina.

After 1960, Amies’s assistant Kenneth Fleetwood was largely responsible for women’s wear. After his death Jon Moore carried on the tradition. Amies remained a forceful presence until his death in 2003.

Chosen by the Queen in 1968, Ian Thomas had a younger approach and was the youngest of the three designers having joined Hartnell as assistant in 1952. His own flair came to redefine the Queen’s style throughout the 1970s and 1980s.

This lecture defines the way in which designers interpreted a fashionable personal style for The Queen, which was ‘above fashion’.

Michael Pick is the author of BE DAZZLED – Norman Hartnell (2012), Hardy Amies (2013), and RAYNE Shoes for Stars (2015). He was responsible for the renovation of the famous Mayfair art moderne Norman Hartnell salon, In the 1970s he worked with noted fashion PR Percy Savage on The London Collections. A founding committee member of the Twentieth Century Society, the British C20th architectural preservation society, he has also written on design and the decorative arts for publications including The Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Independent, Apollo, The Connoisseur, Tatler, Harpers & Queen, and Vogue and has lectured extensively. His television appearances include the BBC documentary Cue The Queen: Celebrating The Christmas Speech (BBC ONE 21 December 2015).

Price £15 / £12 students includes a complimentary drink and exhibition entry.
The event starts at 6pm with a glass of wine in the Museum foyer and opportunity to view the exhibition Missoni Art Colour; the talk follows at 6.15pm for 6.20pm in the Fashion Studio and lasts for approximately one hour including the chance to ask questions at the end. It is followed by a book signing. Ticket includes admission to the Missoni exhibition and guests are welcome to view the exhibition before or after the event.

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