29/06/2021Jean Muir, dressmaker and fashion designer, celebrated with English Heritage Blue Plaque
Joanna Lumley, Muir’s model and friend, unveils plaque at designer’s London headquarters and showroom
A blue plaque honouring Jean Muir, the celebrated dressmaker and fashion designer, has been unveiled by her house model, friend and loyal customer, Joanna Lumley.
The plaque marks 22 Bruton Street in Mayfair, the address of the Jean Muir Ltd showroom and office where the designer worked for almost 30 years, from 1966 until her death in 1995.
Hailed for her exceptional dressmaking, Muir considered herself to have an 'evolutionary, not a revolutionary approach'. From her main base in Bruton Street, she spent 30 years producing timeless, flattering and sophisticated women’s clothes in natural fabrics (from British suppliers) which hung, moved and photographed well. Her elegant designs, with rows of top-stitching as a trademark finish, attracted a wealth of loyal clients to her first-floor showroom, including Joanna Lumley, Lady Antonia Fraser and Patricia Hodge.
Born in London in 1928, Jean Muir began her fashion career in retail at Liberty’s in 1950, where she received an informal education in the business side of fashion whilst also taking classes in Fashion Drawing at St Martin’s School of Art. In 1956, Muir moved on to Jaeger, where she was so successful in introducing the Young Jaeger line that, when she left in 1962, she was able to produce her first independent collection for a new company, Jane and Jane. In 1964, British Vogue hailed her as 'one of the new young names that are giving the Sixties an accent all their own' and in 1966, she left to set up her own business, Jean Muir Ltd, at 22 Bruton Street.
With an unwavering reputation for style, the next 30 years saw Muir carve out a formidable personal image and impressive business, much lauded in the world of fashion. Her designs featured on more than 20 Vogue covers; she won numerous international accolades including Dress of the Year on three occasions; and she became Royal Designer for Industry, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and a Fellow of the Society of Industrial Artists and Designers. In 1984, she was also awarded a CBE, and in 1993 she was elected both the Master of the Faculty of the Royal Designers for Industry and an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Academy.
Anna Eavis, Curatorial Director at English Heritage, commented:
'Jean Muir is one of the finest dressmakers Britain has ever produced, creating ageless and instantly recognisable pieces of clothing. She was a remarkable businesswoman, instrumental in promoting the British fashion industry and crafts. She also influenced later designers including Manolo Blahnik and Issey Miyake. We are delighted to be recognising Muir’s legacy with a blue plaque at the site of her former showroom, the very building where her creations took shape and were sold.'
PLAQUES FOR WOMEN
The London blue plaques scheme was established in 1866 and today, only 14 per cent of the scheme’s 950 plus plaques commemorate women.
English Heritage is working to address the historic gender imbalance in the scheme. The London blue plaques scheme relies on public nominations and since 2016 the charity has been encouraging people to nominate more remarkable female figures from the past – figures like Jean Muir – for an iconic blue roundel.
Since launching our 'plaques for women' campaign five years ago, we have received an increasing number of public nominations for female figures. This year, half of our new plaques will be dedicated to women, and women make up well over half of the cases currently in the pipeline.