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.
Michael Pick, Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and formerly an exhibitioner in history at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, is the author of seven books on design and the decorative arts. A founding committee member of the Twentieth Century Society, a British preservation group, he has contributed to numerous publications, including The Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Independent, Apollo, The Connoisseur, Tatler, Harpers & Queen, and Vogue. Michael has worked with fashion PR Percy Savage and was responsible for the renovation of the famous Mayfair art moderne Norman Hartnell salon. He also wrote BE DAZZLED! The Life of Norman Hartnell, about whom he has lectured at the Victoria & Albert Museum, aboard the Queen Mary, and at the Chichester and Oxford literary festivals. 'Hardy Amies' draws on conversations with Sir Hardy Amies, who asked Michael to write about his life.