Frank Russell, founder of UK outerwear brand Mansfield and nicknamed “king of coats”, died last week aged 83.
Russell was the archetypal fashion entrepreneur, who built his business into a brand that in the 1980s often graced the backs of the likes of Princess Diana and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
The son of a tailor from London’s East End, he left school aged 14 to work for his father.
When the Second World War broke out in 1938 he was called up and saw active service as a radio operator in Italy, Algeria, Morocco and parts of Western Europe. During this time he learned to speak French, Italian and German, which he used after the war to help export his brand all over the world. Mansfield won the Queen’s Awards for Export (now the Queen’s Award for Enterprise) two years running in 1965 and 1966.
Mansfield was a 70-concession business represented in the UK’s top department stores, as well as overseas. Russell also launched a co-ordinates and separates brand called Cache D’Or.
Russell was also a founder of the London Fashion Fair, which was a precursor to London Fashion Week, and headed the British Fashion Exports Council.
When he retired, Mansfield was run by his son Jeffrey and business partner Barry Hancock. He was buried at Bushey Cemetery in Hertfordshire at the weekend, leaving three children.