Hardy Amies' expert cutting ability is apparent in this unusual 1940s day dress of African resist-printed cotton. Each pattern piece is skilfully cut so that the print sits perfectly symmetrically either side of centre front; linear borders within the print trim the collar, sleeve cuffs and hem. Original publicity photographs of three other outfits designed by Amies and in our collections are included below, one also 1940s and two 1950s.
Born in 1909, during the Second World War, Hardy Amies designed for the Utility Clothing Scheme. Introduced as an extension of rationing by the British Board of Trade in 1942, the Scheme aimed to limit the amount of fabric and trimmings used in clothing production. As a member of the Incorporated Society of London Fashion Designers, Amies worked to create a clothing range that could be mass-produced using minimal materials and labour. The range was sold under the CC41 Utility label and feminine styles were characterised by padded shoulders, nipped-in waists and hemlines just below the knee. After the war, Amies designed dresses for Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II) and eventually became her official dressmaker. During this time, he designed many memorable outfits, including the candy-floss pink coat and hat she wore during the Silver Jubilee celebrations in 1977. In recognition of his services and lifelong achievement as a designer, Amies was knighted in 1989, and he died in 2004
Full item descriptions:
"dress" [1957.481], Amies, Hardy
"summer dress" [1956.13], Amies, Hardy
"evening dress and stole" [1956.19], Amies, Hardy, March Mill Ltd
"evening dress & coat" [1959.102/2], Amies, Hardy, Birkin