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The Complete Works of Jean Muir


 When it comes to presenting a collection some designers like nothing more than in-your-face theatrics. From innovative visuals to front row eye candy – with so many shows on schedule who can blame them? Having said that, there is something rather refreshing about a straight forward salon show, no fuss, no models of the moment, just great designs presented as a complete story.

 Step forward Jean Muir. Muir is all about understated elegance and timeless classics, but don’t let that fool you into thinking that there is nothing new to see. Just like the mood of the moment Muir’s designs may look simple but are often complicated with some jackets containing up to eighteen pattern pieces.

Since her death in 1995 Muir’s strong design team continue to develop the labels handwriting. The latest news in the Muir camp is that her widower and business partner Harry Leuckert has left Jean’s personal collection to the National Museums of Scotland.  Muir has Scottish roots from her fathers’ side of the family and has often said in the past that her unfaltering determination was down to her Scottish heritage.



Her personal collection now donated to the museum tots up over 18,000 items, including original designs, sample pieces, letters, imagery by David Bailey and commissioned jewellery pieces by Caroline Broadhead. Curators are now busy cataloguing the collection and there is no doubt that a Jean Muir exhibition will take place in the near future.

The National Museums of Scotland are said to be extremely excited to receive such a complete collection. One that will prove a valuable resource to fashion students wanting to see initial design ideas worked into final garments.

Muir called herself a “traditionalist with a sense of evolution”, and described her work as “engineering in cloth”. She set up her company in 1966 and gained many international awards for her creations that oozed quality and craftsmanship.

She brought high standards of couture workmanship into ready-to-wear and while top designers often quote Muir as a source of influence she is often taken for granted. It was Muir’s wish that her personal collection should settle in Scotland and now the NMS have the perfect opportunity to bring her work to the fore.

As it stands there is no other collection from a 20th century British designer that is so large and complete. Called “the most outstanding dressmaker in the world” by Geraldine Stutz, president of Henri Bendel, New York, it looks like Muir could well be on the verge of impressing us all over again.

By JoJo Iles 



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