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Obituary: ‘unique advocate’ for British fashion Anne Tyrrell

Tributes have been paid to Anne Tyrrell, who died on February 1 after a year-long battle with pancreatic cancer. She was 76.

Tyrrell dedicated more than five decades to the fashion industry, latterly holding a string of positions including member of the British Fashion Council advisory board and chairman of its colleges council, and member of design charity Texprint’s management council.

She began her career as a pattern cutter after studying fashion at the Royal College of Art from 1957 to 1960. She went on to become director of design at clothing supplier John Marks from 1963 to 1982, developing her own self-titled collection.

For more than 20 years between 1974 and 1995, Tyrrell was a senior tutor at the Royal College of Art, after which she became visiting professor. During that time she established her own fashion and interior design consultancy, working across womenswear, menswear, sportswear, kidswear, accessories and corporate clothing. In 2000 she designed the London Underground uniform that is still in use today.

In 2008 she was awarded an MBE by the Queen for her contribution to the British fashion industry. She also has an honorary Master’s degree from the University for the Creative Arts and an honorary fellowship from the Chartered Society of Designers.

She was awarded an Honourary Doctorate from Norwich University of the Arts in 2013 and received a Graduate Fashion Week Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014.

Simon Ward, chief operating officer at the British Fashion Council, said: “Anne Tyrrell was a unique advocate for British fashion education, tirelessly developing closer links between our world-class colleges and industry. A champion for the emerging talent and the future of fashion, her generosity and warmth will be deeply missed.”

Barbara Kennington, honorary chairman of Texprint, described her as “an indefatigable spirit” with “genuine warmth and charm”.

“The industry will miss her greatly, as will all of us who knew her or indeed (as myself) were taught by her at the RCA. Anne was instrumental, over 40 years ago, in ensuring that Texprint should survive and become a charity, thus ensuring that many hundreds of talented textile graduates are to this day showcased and supported in their vital first career steps.

“She was passionate in her love of textiles and fashion; she applauded talent, leading by example and tirelessly encouraging the many students she inspired over the years.”

Paul Alger, director of international business development for the UK Fashion & Textile Association, said: “She was a lovely lady, one of the nicest in the industry, always supportive to young designers. If you ever invited her somewhere she would send the most beautifully written letter of thanks. She was a great friend and she will be very much missed by the industry.”

A small funeral to be attended by Tyrrell’s friends and family, including her brother Peter and long-term companion Paul Mason, will take place on Thursday, February 12. The family is planning to organise a memorial service for the wider industry shortly after, with details to follow.

Readers' comments (6)

  • Very sad news. Lovely lady and architect of the Wispy… a diamond of the cashmere scarf collection.

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  • This is very sad. Anne was a wonderful lady whom I first met many years ago when she was a guest designer for our family fake fur business at Astraka. All the staff in Shildon, Co Durham, loved her visits as she was forever positive and flamboyant bringing London glamour to the North East. We then met again about 3 years ago and amazingly she not only recognized me (!) but remembered all key members of staff and had wonderful stories to share of those times. Deepest condolences to Anne's family from Clive and Daniel Morris

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  • WOW they don't make them like her anymore! A true lady who always lit up the room when she entered!
    My condolences to her family!

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  • Eric Musgrave

    Sad news indeed. It was my pleasure to know Anne for 30-plus years. She was an indefatigable supporter of British fashion and was seen at an astonishing number of trade events up right until last year. Anne was a real fashion industry personality. She will rest in peace immaculately turned out and coiffured as always. My sincere condolences to her family and her many, many friends.

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  • Anne Horton

    A lovely lady who was so generous to me in my first buyership at Simpson Piccadilly over 20years ago. I met her again a couple of years ago and was amazed that she remembered me. She influenced so many people in the UK fashion industry and I feel privileged to have known her.
    My condolences to her family.

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  • An honour and great privilege to have known Anne for over 30 years. A great teacher,a true professional, a lovely woman and great fun.
    A very sad loss indeed
    My sincerest condolences to Paul and her family.
    Eric Bremner

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