Anne Roose obituary

·2-min read

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

She was instrumental in saving the rare-breed Jacob sheep, working 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, which culminated in her celebrated 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 onset of war, the sisters were evacuated from London, staying first with relations in Wales and then in the Shrewsbury area.

While at school, Anne and her sister were told that their father had been reported missing, they assumed dead, and their mother eventually remarried. However, in the mid-50s, when Anne was featured in a newspaper article about her work, she received a phone call. She knew straight away that it was her father. Once reunited, they had a warm relationship. But it was never explained to Anne what had happened.

Anne attended Shrewsbury high school, transferring to Croydon high school once the war ended. She showed great aptitude for art, and, in 1946, after doing her school certificate, she was sent to France to continue her studies, staying with families in Paris via a student exchange arrangement. The first family were active communists, which was less a shock for Anne than it was for her own family – by then based in Purley, Surrey – when it was their turn to reciprocate.

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

In 1954, Anne married Richard Roose, who worked in human resources. She soon combined running an increasingly successful business with bringing up 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 at Sunday lunches around a large Welsh farmhouse dining table. In later years, Anne and Richard moved to Rye in East Sussex to be close to me.

Even in retirement, Anne remained busy making clothes – frequently in wool – for her grandchildren, to whom she was deeply devoted. Jacob sheep are 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.