LONDON — Hardy Amies, the couture house that once dressed Queen Elizabeth and forged ties with royals, world leaders and celebrities, has gone into administration, the U.K. equivalent of Chapter 11.
Menzies, the administrators, said late Wednesday they were seeking a buyer for the U.K. operations and intellectual property rights, and were getting down to work immediately. Industry sources said they are confident a buyer will be found soon.
Fung Capital, the private investment vehicle of Victor and William Fung, who control the Hong Kong-based Li & Fung Group, had acquired the struggling London fashion house Hardy Amies out of administration in 2008. At the time, Fung Capital bought assets including the Hardy Amies and Norman Hartnell brands and the lease to the Hardy Amies store on Savile Row, as well as the group’s licensing agreements.
Hardy Amies’ turnover was thought to be around 4 million pounds, although it had been operating at a loss for some time. Principals at Fung Capital could not be reached for comment at press time.
The U.K. business of Hardy Amies comprises one retail outlet on Savile Row and an e-commerce platform. The administration has no effect on the brand’s operations outside the U.K., according to Freddy Khalastchi and Jonathan Bass of Menzies. The business also owns an extensive archive which includes personal diaries, photographs and sketches of some of Sir Hardy Amies’ original designs.
The administrators said they are “urging potential buyers interested in purchasing the brand’s U.K. operations and intellectual property rights to come forward as soon as possible.” They are also inviting bids for the fashion archive, which includes key designs and collections.
Khalastchi, business recovery partner at Menzies, said that despite trading at a loss in the U.K. for some time, “the Hardy Amies’ brand has a unique heritage, which is much-revered in the world of haute couture. It very much deserves to live on. We are looking forward to talking with potential buyers in the coming days and weeks to find a way to make this happen.”
Hardy Amies is best known as the official dressmaker to Queen Elizabeth II for nearly 35 years. The house would later leave women’s wear behind to focus on men’s tailoring.
In 2012, on Fung Capital’s watch, it joined the London Men’s Fashion Week calendar and inked a deal with Bloomingdale’s to sell a secondary line. Two years later it opened a 3,778-square-foot flagship at 8 Savile Row.
In a cold climate for high-end tailoring and traditional men’s wear, however, Hardy Amies struggled like many others to keep up. It also suffered from the sea changes in retail: Unless stores offer a constant refresh, experiential shopping, and a compelling reason to buy, they risk falling out of consumers’ view.
In his heyday, Hardy Amies was a world-famous designer: In addition to dressing the Queen when she was still Princess Elizabeth, Amies went on to design costumes for Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey.” He made suits for actors including the Hollywood ingénue Mildred Shay and Peter Sellers and mixed with David Hockney, Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan and Lord Snowdon.
Amies was also quick to leverage his fame: By the 1960s, he was designing everything from breakfast trays to bedspreads. He would later become one of the first designers to build a licensing empire in men’s wear and to popularize relatively inexpensive ready-made suits in the U.K.
He had strong opinions about men’s wear, pushing the four-button, single-breasted jacket in the Eighties and breaking the taboo of men wearing brown suits in town.