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Hartnell To Amies: Couture By Royal Appointment (touring)

Start Date 26 October 2013
End Date 26 January 2014
Venue Tullie House Museum
Location Carlisle, UK

Spectacular exhibition of gowns, daywear, suits and accessories worn by some of the most glamorous women in Britain.

Mayfair has long been the place to go for beautifully executed tailoring, and in the post-war years Mayfair couture was largely led by the tailoring of Hardy Amies and Norman Hartnell. Their elegant, innovative work led them to dress society’s finest, eventually earning them warrants from the Royal Family.

This exhibition began with the opening of Norman Hartnell’s first salon in 1923 and British high society’s ‘Bright Young Things’, before discussing the advent of Hardy Amies (1909 – 2003) amongst the leading couturiers of the post-war years and the fashionable world of London dress-making and millinery.

The exhibition showcased a chronology of over forty ensembles of day wear, evening wear and accessories created by the designers, demonstrating the broad scope and immaculate execution of their collections. This stunning show included pieces from the 1920s to the 1990s.

An archive display of Norman Parkinson’s photographs of members of the Incorporated Society of London Fashion Designers was featured in the exhibition. Commissioned by British Vogue, the photographs focus on the leading trends in these designers’ Spring 1953 Collections.

Highlights of the exhibition included:

  • Embellished silk satin wedding dress inspired by Boticelli’s paintings in the National Gallery for Miss Oonagh Guinness on her wedding to Sir Philip Kindersley at St Margaret’s Westminster, 1929.
  • Lady Anne Glenconner’s Norman Hartnell wedding dress.

(Exhibition produced and curated by Fashion and Textile Museum.)