Hartnell to Amies: Couture by Royal Appointment' took place at the Fashion and Textile Museum from November 2012 to February 2013
The exhibition of London couture fashion celebrated the timeless elegance of London couture and explores how the Queen’s patronage of ground-breaking British designers helped put London on the international fashion map after the Second World War.
Hardy Amies epitomised understated British couture, emphasising the cut of fine materials by tailored construction. Untrained in dress-making, he achieved headlines in Vogue in 1937 with his 'Panic' suit, a reconstructed design of a staple in every woman's wardrobe, wittily named to reflect current events. Evoking the glamour of pre-war London while meeting the demands of contemporary society's activities - town to country, morning to night - Amies designs drew a star-studded clientele. His war-time 'utility' designs revealed his design philosophy (and partly concealed his role as head of the Belgian Section of SOE), unveiling a needle-sharp intelligence and intuition for the changing world of fashion, his elegant execution of which was rewarded through the influential seal of approval by HM Queen Elizabeth II, as Princess Elizabeth, in 1950. The first post-war international designer to visit the USA, Amies' luxurious style produced lucrative global business opportunities, including ready-to-wear, menswear shown as couture, and wide-ranging merchandising options.