Label ‘Jean Muir London’
Unlike many fashion designers who became successful in the 1960s and 1970s Jean Muir did not go to art school, acquiring her considerable skills in garment design, construction and marketing while working at Liberty from 1950 and Jaeger from 1956. In 1962 her own label Jane and Jane was set up, soon gaining her recognition in the fashion press, followed by the Jean Muir Company in 1966 where she established a characteristic style that, while very much of its time, did not submit to contemporary trends. She became respected for her elegant and sophisticated clothes made from high quality fabrics that were easy and comfortable to wear.
This dress is easily recognisable as a Jean Muir dress of the 1970s, bearing all the hallmarks of her style: a loose shape made of a softly draped rayon, unlined to maintain its fluidity, and seams and hem emphasised with double rows of pale grey topstitching which are repeated more densely on the collar and front ties. Although she was associated in the public mind with black and very dark navy, clear jewel-like colours such as this shade of mauve were very much part of Muir’s œuvre.
Many of Jean Muir’s customers came from the fields of fashion, media and the arts. Clothes of the quality that she insisted upon did not come cheap; nevertheless, some of her designs were disseminated to a wider market through her collaboration with the dress pattern companies Vogue and Butterick. An elegant Jean Muir navy wool crepe dress in the John Bright Collection was originally acquired through a Sunday Times offer, and in October 1980 the magazine Woman and Home offered a ‘cut out and ready to sew’ two piece outfit of jersey in four colourways, to be tucked and topstitched by the competent home dressmaker. The kit cost from £15.95 to £17.55, according to size.