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.

Luxury with Lucia — Style That's Strictly for the Ladies

Lucia van der Post

Lucia van der Post — The Times 3rd September 2004

There will be those among you who remember the name of Jean Muir one of fashion's grandes dames. She was rather austere in her tastes, never wearing anything but navy blue (very wise) and living in a famously pure white flat near the Albert Hall. All this was long before the nation fell in love with minimalism and a sea of beige and cream engulfed the country's interiors.

After she died in 1995 her husband, Harry Leuckert, went on nurturing the business with the design team she'd built up, but there has never been a Jean Muir shop — until now. It opened this week at 48 Conduit Street, London WI (020-7434 9077); fans of the strict Jean Muir look will find that much of her signature style still lingers there.

Her style, for those who are too young to remember the formidable Miss Muir, was rather austere and distinctly ladylike, though this was a "very metropolitan, intellectual lady with nothing of the suburbanite about her". You get some idea of her appeal from the sort of women who are her fans — Dames Judi Dench and Maggie Smith, Charlotte Rampling, Julie Walters, Saffron Aldridge, Rachel Stirling and her mother Diana Rigg, Anna Ford. None of them a pushover.

Muir herself described her way with fabric as "engineering in cloth" — it had a rigour about it that is not often found in clothes today. They were all intricately constructed and often had great detailing — lots of fine stitching, for instance. I've always had a soft spot for that rather chaste aura, which seems to hint at hidden fires beneath. Men, it seems, love to see their women in Jean Muir — it's that overtly demure look coupled with the sensuous flow of the fabric. She was a past master at using and cutting matt jersey and pure wool crepes, not to mention giving us the softest, most seductive of suede coats, jackets and waistcoats.

The strong handwriting gave the label a style which in its heyday was instantly recognisable. Today a team of four women, all of whom trained and worked under the formidable Miss Muir herself, still do the designing, so the aesthetic DNA, if you like, is in their blood. While the signature Muir look is still evident in much of the clothing — the matt jersey, the pure wool crepes, the intricate stitching, the ladylike aura — there is also a raft of pieces clearly designed to bring in some of those eminently desirable beings, the "younger set".

It's seriously good news that there is a place where one will be able to find properly grownup clothes (Miss Muir never did "cute"), beautifully made and with a certain sensuous classicism to them. Apart from anything else, those who wonder why on earth more people don't make clothes in the endlessly flattering (and chic) navy instead of so much black (which can kill stone dead certain skin tones and colourings) will find a ready cache of Miss Muir's signature navy blue. There's a particularly useful dress in matt jersey which has a V neck edged with rows of topstitching and three quarter-length sleeves and which skims gently over tummy and hips, ending just below the knee. Very grown-up. It costs £590 and comes in — of course — navy blue, but also in aubergine (or "myrtille" as the shop prefers to calls it), peony pink, black and truffle brown. The shop itself sports an all-white interior — shades of Miss Muir's own brilliant flat — with marble flooring and lots of glamorous mirrors, glass and brushed steel. But don't forget, too, to check out the suede jackets and skirts with the signature hand-punched borders.

Lucia van der Post — The Times 3rd September 2004