The standard-bearer of refined masculine elegance, the inimitable Hardy Amies was renowned as much for his sharp sartorial witticisms as he was for his personal style, immortalised by his signature statement: “a man should look as if he had bought his clothes with intelligence, put them on with care and then forgotten all about them”.
Born in 1909 in Maida Vale, West London, Edwin Hardy Amies established his illustrious house at no.14 Savile Row in 1945, closing the door on his gentleman-spy past as a war-time Special Operations Executive, to pursue his true calling as one of the most influential British designers of the modern age.
In the space of a decade, having built his label from the war-torn remnants of London’s fashion industry, Amies found himself dressing the titled great and good of European society, forming a special relationship with Queen Elizabeth II which lasted until his death in 2003.
With Clare Malcolm appointed as creative director of the brand in 2010 after stints working with Kim Jones and Patrick Grant’s E.Tautz, a new era dawned for the legendary fashion house. The brand’s first foray into menswear in 1961 was received with great critical acclaim, with all menswear collections that followed adhering to Hardy’s disciplined and reverent approach to traditional design etiquette.
Malcolm’s arrival at the label has heralded an altogether more youthful, fresher feel, whilst respectfully paying tribute to the time-honoured design eloquence and conventional sophistication of the Hardy Amies aesthetic – a difficult balance to obtain for a young designer taking on a label with such a distinguished pedigree.
With several seasons under her belt, Malcolm’s SS12 collection is her design team’s finest work yet. Beautifully-executed unstructured jackets – a key feature for the warmer months – are prevalent across the collection, along with more traditional wool tailoring, updated with the use of soft pastel tones and quirky-cool heritage checks.
A range of technically impressive knitwear is central to the line, with intricate open-web weaves and iridescent metallic fibre blends in appealing, striking summer shades, whilst shirting appears with playfully vibrant micro-prints, reminiscent of the menswear line’s retro-60s origins. Sharply cut shorts make their presence felt too – a former design detestation of the label’s always appropriately dressed founder.
All in all, it’s a superbly comprehensible collection that can’t fail to bring any man’s inner dandy to the surface.
With the house launching the younger, more accessible ‘Hardy Amies London’ line in July, the brand certainly has a bold and bright future ahead, with Clare Malcolm the driving force to ensure this label remains the sartorial calling card of the cultured and sophisticated urban gentleman.
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