Saturday, September 26, 2009

1960's Fashion Icon - Miss Jean Muir

By David Grosshans

Jean Muir was born in London in 1928. She never had any formal training in fashion, and never attended an art school. It must have been a gift from the child prodigy who plays great piano concerto's at age three. She had a keen sense of form, color, and design, with the ability to incorporate her magnificent creative ideas into simple-chic clothing, that woman loved to wear. She never compromised quality for commercial success. Instead her success came over time, by just being herself, but overseeing every aspect of her creations from the sketch pad to the marketplace.


Muir told people that by age 6 she could embroider, sew and knit. Employed by Liberty & Co. in the early 50's, she started in the stockroom. But it wasn't long before someone noticed her talent, and the 'Ready to Wear' department asked her to do sketching. This opened the way to designing, which brought her to Jaeger in 1956. She preferred to be called a "technical designer". She was also amazed to find out that simply 'coming up with ideas' made you a designer. When she left Jaeger, David Barnes, a manufacturer, offered to fund her own label. She named it Jane & Jane.


In 1966 she formed a partnership with her husband Harry Leuckert. The new company was called Jean Muir Ltd. The high standards continued, as was true with whatever she involved herself. Always using the highest grade of fabrics, including silk, wool crepe, cashmere and lambs wool. A tradition established at Jane & Jane. She only used the very best grade of cashmere and lambs wool for her knitwear, which was produced in Scotland.

The company changed hands in 1985, but she established ownership again by 1989. Jean Muir died in 1995, but the company continued under the guidance of her husband. The first Jean Muir Ltd. store opened in London in 2004. But three years later in 2007 it was announced that Jean Muir Ltd. was closing.


Many will remember Jean Muir for the "little black dress", and her use of navy-blue and black colors. Others will remember her elegant designs and chic creations for there grace and simplicity, yet with impeccable emphases on detail, form, and fit. She wanted her clothes to be comfortable to wear. She called it "engineering with cloth"

We all must admire her dedication to a higher standard, both in the work place, and in every step of production. She attributed this to her Scottish heritage. An entire room, the silver room, at the National Museum of Scotland, in Edinburgh, is dedicated to Jean Muir. Her husband donated her archive collection in 2005. Muir asked that her friends wear black with white flowers at her funeral.

If you liked this article, please visit my website to view my many additional articles and posts on the 1960's fashion scene, as well as some other related topics; vintage clothing, retro, etc. Also some bit's on Bob Dylan, Grace Slick, and Twiggy. See you there.

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