Anne Roose obituary | Meeting

My mother, Anne Roose, who has died aged 90, was a fashion designer who helped reinvent Welsh wool with her sleek, modern designs inspired by Celtic tradition.

She was instrumental in saving the rare Jacob sheep and worked with Araminta, Lady Aldington and the Holywell Textile Mill in North Wales to transform the distinctive but rough fleece into beautiful cloth in natural tones, culminating in her famous Anna Roose Jacob Collection (she used Anna as her professional first name).

Anne was born in Blackheath, south London, to Muriel (nee Richards) and Ralph Paton, who worked for the Mazawattee Tea Company. Her younger sister was Jane Paton, the prolific children’s book illustrator of the 1960s and 70s. With the outbreak of war the sisters were evacuated from London, living first with relations in Wales and then in the Shrewsbury area.

While at school, Anne and her sister were told their father had been reported missing, presumed dead, and their mother eventually remarried. But in the mid-1950s, when Anne was featured in a newspaper article about her work, she received a phone call. She knew at once that it was her father. Once reunited, they had a warm relationship. But it was never explained to Anne what had happened.

Anne Roose, far left, showing a cloak from the Anna Roose Jacob collection to a group including Araminta, Lady Aldington in the early 1970s

Anne attended Shrewsbury High School, transferring to Croydon High School when the war ended. She showed great aptitude for art and in 1946, after taking her school certificate, was sent to France to continue her studies, living with families in Paris via a student exchange scheme. The first family were active communists, which was less of a shock to Anne than it was to her own family – then based in Purley, Surrey – when it was their turn to retaliate.

Sketch by Anne Roose of a design from a Parisian haute couture show in the 1950s
Sketch by Anne Roose of a design from a Parisian haute couture show in the 1950s

As a student in Paris, Anne got her first taste of the world of high fashion, and even met Coco Chanel. On her return to England, she enrolled at St Martin’s School of Art. After graduating, she got a job as a draftsman for a fashion company in London, which sent her to the haute couture shows in Paris. Each evening she returned to her room to sketch the designs from memory to send back to London.

In 1954, Anne married Richard Roose, who worked in human resources. She soon combined running an increasingly successful business with raising three children in a sprawling Arts and Crafts house in Oxted, Surrey. The door was never locked, with family and friends of children – and later grandchildren – always welcome for Sunday lunches around a large Welsh farm table. In later years Anne and Richard moved to Rye in East Sussex to be near me.

Even in retirement, Anne remained busy making clothes – often in wool – for her grandchildren, to whom she was deeply devoted. Jakobsau is now a familiar sight in the British countryside.

Richard died in 2009. Anne is survived by her children, Anthony, Simon and me, seven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

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