Hardy Amies – Menswear Fashion | Interview with Design Director Mehmet Ali
A BALANCING act definitely, a trompe l’oeil may be too strong a term, but there is always more than meets the eye to any garment that proudly strolls out of the Hardy Amies design workshop.
From concept to coat hanger, the world-famous Savile Row fashion house has always remained true to the ideals of its originator, Sir Edwin Hardy Amies – a man who believed in inclusive men’s fashion.
A man who designed, while living a double life as a Second World War spy and an officer. Needless to say his uniforms, which have inspired a section of the AW14 range, are designed for a multitude of uses.
Ian Fleming’s stuff of dreams, unlike Bond though, they are all true.
Stuarts London had the pleasure of talking with the brand’s current design director Mehmet Ali, a man who definitely holds Amies’ beliefs true.
Having worked as a designer for Reiss menswear, apprenticed as a bespoke tailor and studied at Ravensbourne College, London, Ali now heads up the brand’s designs with pride.
“I believe strongly in Hardy’s pioneering of ready-to-wear menswear, he himself was not a bespoke tailor, although he was a couturier to The Queen. He was one of the first ever British designers to want to establish ready-to-wear fashion for men.
“He was quoted as saying that he had a love of building a bridge between the ‘Higher classes and the High Street’, and his thought process of a more inclusive menswear is still held true today with everything that we do and I love that aspect. That makes us very different from any other House on The Row.”
The label has dressed countless famous names, but still dresses its customers the same way, to create a wardrobe for men that, as Ali says, ‘All works together for that season and onwards’.
“We have a happy medium with our ranges, we keep things eclectic, soft tailoring forms the foundation of the collection but we are as interested in every other aspect from our knitwear to our casual jackets. We want everything to be distinctly wearable.”
With the AW14 range, the garments hark back to Amies’ ‘time in service’, and Ali enjoyed every minute looking back through the photo archives of the company founder, during his time as part of the Special Operations Executive working with the Belgium resistance.
“The functionality of these original pieces has been concentrated on and it is our duty to modernise the items and reintroduce these aspects into the current ranges.
“For me that is the best part of design, the endless search for new inspiration and the nature of menswear. There is so much to take from, pieces that can be made relevant again. “There are always gems in the various archives that can be brought to the fore and focused on.”
He added: “From a product standpoint, that’s great for us. I have a love of military pieces, so to create that balance of the old and the new is very rewarding.
“We are ‘Modern Traditionalist’. I do not think menswear needs to be turned on its head, the elements of what we love and how we dress are there, it’s about making that statement season to season.”
It really is a pursuit of happiness that drives Ali and the brand on. “It is about working towards creating the classic wardrobe of perfect pieces that is interesting and new.”
The SS15 range highlights once again the immediate world around Hardy Amies, linking in with the modern lifestyle of the capital, leaning on very British functionality, making life easier, but also stylish, as Amies always wanted.
Ali said: “It’s a more holistic approach in these seasons, we are seeing what’s going on around us, what is genuinely happening and most importantly, what is relevant.”
As with the man himself, there is always more than meets the eye with Hardy Amies.