Sir Hardy Amies, the openly gay British fashion designer and longtime official dressmaker to Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, died Wednesday, his company announced. He was 93. Amies died in his sleep at his home in the Cotswolds in southwest England, said Tim Maltin, managing director of Hardy Amies Ltd. Amies, who learned his dressmaking skills from his mother, a London seamstress, was known for elegance and good taste--values that sat well with the queen's preference for comfortable if not chic outfits. Appointed the queen's dressmaker in 1955, he was responsible for creating dozens of new royal outfits each year--from grand ball gowns to practical day dresses.
Critics thought his creations dowdy, but Amies was not one to apologize--not least for her majesty. "I don't think she feels chic clothes are friendly," he once told an interviewer. "The queen's attitude is that she must always dress for the occasion--usually for a large mob of middle-class people toward whom she wishes to seem friendly."
In a statement Buckingham Palace said: "The queen was very sad to hear of Sir Hardy's death. He contributed to her wardrobe over many years, and she is, of course, saddened that he has died."
Amies's many other customers included the queen's cousin Princess Michael of Kent and former daughter-in-law Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York. The stepmother of the late Princess Diana, Raine Comtesse de Chambrun, was also a regular client. Amies would advise his clients to always select the right dress for the occasion, to give the appearance of being completely relaxed--and never to show too much flesh. Once he said, "I hate strapless bodices, for example, because any man looking at one thinks, 'How the hell does she keep the thing up?'"