Legendary Dressmaker Jean Muir Gets A Blue Plaque

Legendary Dressmaker Jean Muir Gets A Blue Plaque

One of London's most famous dressmakers has been commemorated with a blue plaque at her former showroom and offices in Mayfair.

Jean Muir spent almost thirty years producing exquisitely tailored, elegantly muted pieces for women at 22 Bruton Street. In 1966 — following stints at Liberty and Jaeger — she launched her own label here, and she continued working at the address until sadly losing her battle with breast cancer in 1995. Her label ultimately folded in 2007.

Jean Muir © National Museums Scotland.

Muir favoured the term 'dressmaker' over 'designer'. She rebelled against the popular sixties notion of fashion as high art and instead saw her craft as "engineering in cloth". This ethos is reflected in the types of material she worked with — natural fabrics such as jersey, soft suede or wool designed to hang and photograph well.

Her designs featured on at least 20 Vogue covers and garnered many famous fans, including author Lady Antonia Fraser and actor Joanna Lumley, a house model for Jean Muir and friend to the dressmaker.

Joanna Lumley (far left) and other models backstage at a Jean Muir show © Marilyn Stafford.

"Jean Muir was rather frightening if you didn’t know her", Lumley revealed as she unveiled the plaque last month.

"She was demanding as far as expert finishing was concerned, exuberant, loving night clubs and jazz; her friends and clients were princesses and judges, actresses and rock stars, writers and painters. She was very kind and impulsive... The French said she was the best dressmaker of a generation. I adored her.”

Image © National Museums Scotland.

This isn't the first blue plaque to grace Bruton Street. Further down the road, at Number 26, you'll spot another sapphire circle — this one dedicated to Sir Norman Hartnell, former dressmaker to the Queen.

Speaking of Her Majesty, this also happens to be the street on which Elizabeth II was born. Number 17 was home to her maternal grandfather, the Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne. The building was demolished following the Blitz but a plaque commemorates the spot.

Muir included, English Heritage plans to honour six women with blue plaques in 2021 as part of a wider effort to diversify the scheme. Three of these — for Muir, social reformer Caroline Norton, and crystallographer Kathleen Lonsdale  — have already been unveiled, while those dedicated to abolitionist Ellen Craft, barrister Helena Normanton, and Diana, Princess of Wales will come later in the year.

You can put forward you own suggestions for future plaques here.

Last Updated 07 July 2021