Bernat Klein

1922 - 2014

Fabric designer, famous for his mohair tweeds. Born in Senta (Serbia), the son of a textile importer, Klein was sent to Jerusalem just before the outbreak of the Second World War, during which most of his family perished in Auchwitz. He went on to study textile technology at the University of Leeds (England) and eventually settled in the Scottish Borders. In Galashiels he founded Colourcraft to weave his distinctive brightly-coloured tweed, which was to have a significant impact on the fashion industry of the 1950s and 60s. In 1956 he bought the High Mill at Netherdale in Galashiels. His fabrics were chosen by designers such as Coco Chanel, Christian Dior, Pierre Cardin and Yves Saint Laurent, bringing international exposure. He sold his mill and began again in 1966, with a new company run from his modernist home and studio, High Sunderland between Selkirk and Galashiels, overlooking the Eildon Hills. He did much to rejuvenate the form of tweed used in womens' clothing, taking his inspiration from the colours of nature. Klein carried his distinctive style across woven wool, knitwear, carpets, printed synthetic and furnishing fabrics. He establishing a network of hand-knitters and opened shops in London and on George Street in Edinburgh.

Klein was awarded a CBE in 1973, an honorary fellowship of the Royal Incorporation of Architects (1980) and an honorary degree from Heriot-Watt University (2003) in recognition of his achievements in textile design. He died at High Sunderland and his funeral took place at Borders Crematorium. He will be remembered for his visionary use of colour blending and texture, which had a significant impact on international fashion. An important collection of his work is held at the Scottish Borders Campus of Heriot-Watt University in Galashiels. Further items are held by the Museum of Scotland.

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