This web site, dedicated to Jean Muir, includes a collection of press cuttings and other information celebrating the life of one of Britain's greatest fashion designers.

Lots more information can be found in the Jean Muir Archive at: National Museums Scotland.

Sixties icon Jean Muir the hottest label this year

By Liz Jones, Daily Mail — 12th June 2006

On a boiling hot summer's day I'm standing in the cool white interior of the Jean Muir boutique. I am in my knickers, and the manager, Friederike Steineke, is placing garments on a rail for me.

Items from Museums of Scotland exhibition

Some Jean Muir items which
will be displayed in the National
Museums of Scotland exhibition.

As someone who had always thought the name Jean Muir to be synonymous with navy, I am surrounded by a riot of colour: hot pink, turquoise and soft gold.

I tell Friederike, who is German-born but has the face of a Brazilian supermodel, that I need an outfit to take me from Ladies' Day at Ascot to a country wedding in the Peak District in July, and I can see she is a woman who likes a challenge.

She drapes a soft Linton tweed (from Carlisle), blush-pink jacket and swing skirt in my arms. Every detail is exquisite, from the silver leaf buttons (made by a jeweller) to the hand-sewn silk bias binding at the waist. This is a garment that will last a lifetime, but with a price tag of around £1,000 is a fraction of the price you would pay for couture.

Even though Jean Muir was accepted alongside all the more innovative designers who made up Swinging London, such as Mary Quant and Foale & Tuffin, she always made clothes that were for grown-ups, not adolescent girls: rare then and even rarer now.

And although the designs seem timeless, there is no hotter label than Jean Muir to be seen in this year, not only because it is celebrating its 40th birthday, but because women are starting to reject the idea that fashion should always be disposable, and now want something unique that can be handed down to their daughters.

Sienna Miller - whose favourite piece of clothing is a vintage Muir purple suede cape -Kate Moss and Stella McCartney are all fans.

'Miss Muir', as she preferred to be addressed, set up shop in the autumn of 1966 having learned her trade as a dressmaker (she hated the term 'designer')

She died of breast cancer in 1995 at the age of 67. But handling one of the black suits in her signature wool crepe or a jersey dress with Georgette sleeves, it is as if she really went away.

Although she and her husband Harry Leukert, whom she married in 1955, never had children, the fact the label is still family-owned is much in evidence.

Friederike is Harry's 30-year-old daughter; after Muir died, he married Friederike's mother, Ingrid. Muir knew about the existence of a daughter, but they never talked about her in public. And although Friederike never met Jean Muir, she and her husband Nicolas, now the MD of the company, moved to London after she died.

Friederike says that her father "has always told me so many stories about her, I feel I know her so well. And, of course, I always wear Jean Muir because the clothes are never overtly sexy, but rather subtle and sensuous.

"They move beautifully on the body. I wore it at my wedding," she smiles, smoothing a pretty print skirt over the bump that signals the arrival of her first baby, due in November.

And the four-strong design team — Joyce Fenton Douglas, Angela Gill, Caroline Angell and Tracy Joyce - were all trained by Muir and have been with the company for more than 20 years.

I pick up a jersey dress that moves like mercury between my fingers and it turns out it was made, from start to finish, by Joanna Leonidas, the seamstress who has been making them for Miss Muir since 1964.

To celebrate 40 years in business, the family has donated 18,000 items - sketches, patterns, toiles, garments — to the National Museums of Scotland, and a big Muir exhibition is planned for 2008.

The collection for spring/summer 2007 will raid the archives and resurrect a blocked sheer Georgette print from the Seventies, a simple jersey shift which was named Dress Of The Year in 1979 and T-shirt dresses with sequins at the hem, neck and sleeves from the Eighties.

Sales director Sinty Stemp, who has written the first biography of the designer, to be published this autumn, says: "We have never felt the need to hire a star designer like John Galliano or Christopher Bailey. Her signature look is quickly identified, but never shrieks that you are wearing a label. The clothes are as relevant today as they ever were."

In the end, I decide not to eat for the next year or so and choose a champagne tweed summer coat with a nipped-in waist, shot through with silver sequins and with a delicious buttery silk lining for £900.

It will look cool and elegant over my silver shift dress by new label Ashish, or even my battered 20-year-old Levis.

It has often been said that once you buy your first piece of Jean Muir, you won't want to wear anything else, so I am looking forward to being very poor.

"The clothes in themselves do not make a statement", Miss Muir once said. "The woman makes a statement and the dress helps."

And that's exactly how it should be.

By Liz Jones, Daily Mail — 12th June 2006