Tributes have been paid to revolutionary fashion designer Bernat Klein, who died aged 91 after a short illness on Thursday last week.
The celebrated textile mill owner, famed for brightening Scotland’s drab tweeds with exotic colour, remained alert, active and painting abstract art in his modernist High Sunderland home near Selkirk until a week before he died.
His daughter, Shelley, told us: “He was still experimenting with colour, and still enjoying life at High Sunderland, which he always loved more than anywhere.
“He loved the landscape, the colours, the view. He was never happier than when he was here. This house is him – everything he believed in. I don’t know how else to put it. It’s an extension of him, how he felt people should live.”
She went on: “The warmth he received in the Borders was second to none. He felt privileged to live here.
Klein’s open, simple, bright A-listed house on the Sunderland Hall estate, designed by architect Peter Womersley in 1956, will continue as the family home, lived in by Shelley, and visited by Bernat’s elder daughter Gillian and son Jonathan.
Shelley said: “He was an incredibly kind man. He had a most beautiful smile and sparkle in his eyes. He was a much- loved father and grandfather. He was a very individual and determined man – very forward thinking.”
Bernat, a Serbian Jew born in Senta in 1922, moved to Scotland 65 years ago – and lost his heart to the country’s warm, friendly people, to the light-drenched landscape and ever-changing seasons.
Despite the cold weather, Bernat loved his adopted country and wanted to make it a brighter place, recalling the clothes he first saw in the Borders were either mud-brown or sludge green.
Style-bible Vogue said he “revolutionised traditional English fabrics to win them new recognition abroad”.
Neil Baxter, of the Royal Institute of Architects Scotland, called him “an adoptive Scot whose international influence as a textile designer cannot be underestimated.
“He helped revitalise the Borders’ weaving and cloth industries.”