Bernat Klein

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Bernat Klein

Photo of Bernat Klein painting
Klein in the 1960s
Born(1922-11-06)6 November 1922
Died17 April 2014(2014-04-17) (aged 91)
Alma mater
Known forTextile design, painting
AwardsDesign Council Award (1968)

Bernat Klein CBE (6 November 1922 – 17 April 2014) was a Serbian textile designer and painter. Based in Scotland, Klein supplied textiles to haute couture designers in the 1960s and 1970s, and later sold his own clothing collections.[1][2]


Klein was born in 1922[3] in Senta, Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes.[4] In 1940 he attended the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, Jerusalem, and then moved on to the University of Leeds, England, where he studied textile technology from 1945. He was employed by various textile companies in England and Scotland, until 1952 when he established Colourcraft (Gala) Ltd. This comprised a weaving centre in Galashiels in the Scottish Borders, producing rugs and other items which were sold at the company's own shop in Edinburgh. He created innovative textiles, building up trade with producers such as Marks and Spencer.[4]

In 1962, Coco Chanel chose Klein's fabrics for her spring collection, which led to greater exposure and further sales to couture houses in the US and Europe including Dior, Balenciaga, Pierre Cardin and Saint Laurent.[5] The company was renamed Bernat Klein Limited, and a major stake in the business was acquired by a subsidiary of Imperial Tobacco.[4]

Klein resigned from this company in 1966, setting up on his own again.[4] He based himself at his home near Selkirk, where he commissioned a studio building from the architect Peter Womersley, who had designed Klein's house, High Sunderland, in the 1950s.[6] He established a cottage industry of hand-knitters, employing up to 250 people.[4] During the 1970s he began producing his own clothing collections, and later established himself as a design and colour consultant.[5] The Department of the Environment commissioned him in the latter capacity to develop standard ranges of carpets and upholstery fabrics.[7]

Klein drew inspiration from nature for his textiles and paintings. His signature fabrics include colourful exotic tweeds, incorporating mohair and ribbons,[8] as well as velvet and jersey fabrics.[5] He won the Design Council Award in 1968,[5] and was awarded an honorary degree from Heriot-Watt University in 2003.[9]


  1. ^ Watson, Jeremy (20 April 2014). "Former spy turned designer Bernat Klein dies at 91". The Scotsman. Retrieved 21 April 2014.
  2. ^ Harwood, Elain. "Obituaries: Bernat Klein". C20: The Twentieth Century Society. Archived from the original on 13 February 2019. Retrieved 12 February 2019.
  3. ^ "Bernat Klein - obituary". The Telegraph. 2 May 2014. Retrieved 27 September 2019.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Bernat Klein, Textile Designer and Manufacturer, Galashiels". Archives Hub. Retrieved 27 September 2010 – via JISC.
  5. ^ a b c d "Bernat Klein". Vintage Fashion Guild. Retrieved 16 June 2010.
  6. ^ Historic Environment Scotland. "HIGH SUNDERLAND, THE STUDIO (FORMER BERNAT KLEIN STUDIO) (Category A Listed Building) (LB19484)". Retrieved 14 March 2019.
  7. ^ Ruiz, Núria (31 July 2015). "Getting your colours done: Bernat Klein and the Personal Colour Guide". National Museums Scotland Blog. National Museums Scotland. Retrieved 21 October 2019.
  8. ^ Currie, David J. "Weaving in Scotland". Scottish Textile Heritage Online. Archived from the original on 26 August 2011. Retrieved 16 June 2010.
  9. ^ "Honorary Degrees for Leading Designers". Heriot-Watt University. Archived from the original on 24 February 2012. Retrieved 16 June 2010.

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