Things I have learned in the past three days- Amies (Hardy) – Amie

January 20, 2012 at 3:47 pm 11 comments

You learn something new everyday apparently:

In the back and beyond of -or in the beginning or my “working” career I was a temp for the fashion industry in London. One particular job of work was for a receptionist for the Hardy Amies-( Ready to Wear) Salon

I was chosen from other temps because of my diction and lack of noticeable “dialect” also the “ready to wear salon” was trying to cash in on the “youth market “ of London’s swinging 60’s. My first morning ( being new to the world of fashion and only being back in London from Canada a short while I had no idea the hierarchy of the London fashion scene and who was who ( Hardy Amies was the designer to the Queen) . I made the mistake of answering the first phone call ( reading from the “script” I had been given )

Good Morning Hardy AMY Ready to Wear – May I be of assistance?

Within mere seconds of my first call- my outer room filled with models , managers ( even the cutters) and then this very tall elegant older gentleman- whom I was soon to find out was Hardy AMIES presented himself– that is the only way I can describe him he “presented his presence into the lobby”.

photoby Patrick Lichfield (Thomas Patrick John Anson, 5th Earl of Lichfield),photograph,August 1970

He did not talk directly to me – you could feel the cold annoyance permeating from him though. My 17 years and the invincibility of youth did not come to my aid- I half rose out of the chair ( which was uncomfortable – I believe on purpose so that your back was straight and anyone coming into reception was met without a slouch.) not knowing whether to run or curtsy.

I was lucky ( I think) not to be instantly dismissed. A Mr. Seth spoke up for me -I know had I been in the Haute Couture salon – well I wouldn’t ever had been hired for that salon- I was not elegant, tall , swanlike or talked with the proverbial marble in one’s mouth ( and that was the criteria for their receptionist) I know even if I had been all those things I would have been thrown out unceremoniously.

As it stood I was given a 2nd chance and I remained the receptionist through the “showing season” – ah the tales I could tell…. and then I moved on to the recording industry.

As I was locked in my self- inflicted confinement last evening I was surprised to learn this man who scared me to sit straight had actually served in WW2 and had run a spy network and all sorts of daring plans to deal with Nazi collaborators-

The Queen’s dressmaker Sir Hardy Amies was yesterday named as one of the men who helped to plan the murder of dozens of Nazi collaborators in Europe towards the end of the Second World War.

Mr Darlow said: “When we went to see Hardy Amies, he said ‘sorry, old chap, I can’t remember a thing about it.'” He said Sir Hardy would have nothing to feel ashamed about. “Organising the assassination of Nazi collaborators across Europe was an act of patriotism. I admit, though, that it is hard to reconcile the Queen’s dress designer with this.”

At the out break of World War II, with his language experience Amies was called up to serve in the Special Operations Executive. Amies suspected that SOE’s commander Major General Colin Gubbins did not regard a dressmaker as suitable military material, but his training report stated:

“This officer is far tougher both physically and mentally than his rather precious appearance would suggest. He possesses a keen brain and an abundance of shrewd sense. His only handicap is his precious appearance and manner, and these are tending to decrease.

I was shocked as I watched the program and fascinated but considering he always knew what exactly was happening in both salons within seconds of events I think he probably used the tools of the trade from his war experience in his business. ( explains a lot) And he certainly wasn’t precious in appearance when he presented himself in the Ready to Wear Salon- I wasn’t the only one sitting up straight and that went for the clients as well as the staff. 🙂

I also learned from my stint in his salon – presentation is key – and the first person you deal with is just as important as any CEO or CFO.

I have also learned :

Even if your eyes are red and sore with crying everyday for these many months.
Your face is puffy and the wrinkles and lines of care are etched deeper into a sagging skin-
Your limbs no longer limber, you walk slower , and trail behind – that the food of comfort has added to an already plump frame.
Your hair, no longer shiny bright and well groomed
It matters not you are without makeup – you are not dressed to flatter- your manicure decidedly lacking –
No, it matters not to this little child who also makes his presence known loudly and joyfully at your arrival- because, all things aside he sees the patient playmate – a playmate and one who has time to enter the world of make-believe and throw snowballs and helps fill up his trucks with the cold white stuff and makes hot chocolate – you are beautiful once again in the eyes of youth .


Entry filed under: Brit take, Love, men of substance, personal opinion. Tags: , , .

I am folk weary – God with us or Gott Mitt Uns Lorain Dude times 2- It is a Boy!!!

11 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Errant Aesthete  |  January 20, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    A lovely tale on a man who scared you to “sit straight” in your youth, when those lessons are so humiliatingly personal. I completely agree that Amies’ skills as a spy suited (pun intended) him perfectly as the Queen’s dressmaker. Who better to dress her than a chameleon?

  • 2. ree  |  January 20, 2012 at 6:13 pm

    The love of a child is so pure!

  • 3. Loraine Ritchey  |  January 20, 2012 at 7:37 pm

    My travel back intime to the “Ready to Wear” salon reminded me of two other experiences- being a lowly “temp” receptionist the money was not great and I couldn’t afford even “ready to wear ” but I remember watching the models and how they would take something so basic and “cheap” and with just a couple of acccessories become “chic”- One evening after I had finished for the day I changed into an outfit I purchased from one of the big London cheap stores 🙂 I was meeting people for a meal when Mr. Amies passed through the salon- I stood frozen in front of the mirror- Oh I am for it now I thought – he looked at me – go to the cutting room – press that outfit and take an inch off the hem of the trousers and wear a higher heel before you go out in public… …. I did 🙂 and it did make all the difference

  • 4. Grammy  |  January 21, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    My gosh! What an experience. You had your own OO7. Life experiences can be so great when all the pieces come together.

    As to the last part of this piece, so true. The little ones can make it all so good, even when it’s not. thanks for the reminder.

  • 5. aka mozart  |  January 21, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    Bond…James Bond…I Thought that was such an interesting story..And…”ready wear” that cracks me up, the term they gave. Wonder what un~ready wear is?…(maybe used un~derwear?)..well now just being silly
    For some reason the snow days always takes me back to my childhood…staying outside for hours till all limbs were red and numb,,then coming indoors, and going directly to the heat vent to thaw out what was frozen..and feeling the pinch and the sting as blood started to flow again…so on that thought, I will make myself (on this snowy sat morn)..a nice cup of hot chocolate.with little marshmellows .and keep those thoughts warm..!while listening to My Mozart
    thanks Loraine!

  • 6. Loraine Ritchey  |  January 21, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    Well in the
    fashion houses there are tailor made clothing lines- individual designs and then there is the off the peg or ready to wear- the Haute Couture was very big bucks as opposed to the off the peg but having a “designer label still meant you pay a lot more ……

    In the fashion industry, designers produce ready-to-wear clothing intended to be worn without significant alteration, because clothing made to standard sizes fits most people. They use standard patterns, factory equipment, and faster construction techniques to keep costs low, compared to a custom-sewn version of the same item. Some fashion houses and fashion designers produce mass-produced and industrially manufactured ready-to-wear lines, while others offer garments that, while not unique, are produced in limited numbers.

  • 7. aka mozart  |  January 21, 2012 at 10:41 pm

    i remember that Well Loraine…when I lived in Boulder I worked for a very small shop. When Robert Redford would come into boulder he would some times come in. We were open to the public. but most of clients would shop by apt..and we would have to have bascially a fashion show with what we thought the client would be interested in purchasing. It was a real learing experience in the retail industry..i am no stranger to sales and it was a blast. My first paycheck I called the owner..and said they must have made a mistake on my check…She told me there was no error…Whooohoo! Pd cash for my mercedes…and came back to ohio..and here is where I have stayed.
    From Mercedes to a…what was I thinking!’t life grand!

  • 8. Brian  |  January 23, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    Judging people based on their outer appearance many times causes very qualified and experienced people to get “passed over” for positions in life.

    Little children are the “purest” because society hasn’t had the opportunity to corrupt their minds at that age with the predudices and judgmental attitude that many in society have.

    Besides that, grandkids are the greatest because they can make an old man feel younger again and bring back precious memories of joy when our own children were little.

  • 9. joe smith  |  January 23, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    Well said Brian!

  • 10. Dr Tammy  |  January 23, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    We have our own Moneypenny in Little Lorain;-).

  • 11. aka mozart  |  January 23, 2012 at 2:27 pm


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