Hilary Alexander was the Fashion Director of The Daily Telegraph for 26 years. She has twice been awarded the British Fashion Journalist of the Year at the British Fashion Awards, in 1998, and 2003.

A victim of fast-paced celebrity fashion, the company is in the process of what the directors called yesterday "an orderly wind down".

Described as the "Chanel of England", Miss Muir who died 12 years ago, was a favourite of the likes of Joanna Lumley, Dame Judi Dench and Lauren Bacall.

The spring/summer 2007 collection will be the last bearing her name and, when the doors of the shop in London's West End shut after Easter, it will bring a unique era of British streamlined style and understated sensuality to a close.

The company, which employs 25 people, recently celebrated its 40th anniversary with Jean Muir: Beyond Fashion, a lavishly illustrated book documenting the designer's extraordinary career. Yesterday, Harry Leuckert, Miss Muir's husband, who has run the company since her death from breast cancer in 1995 aged 66, said: "It is sad, but I believe this is the way Jean would have wanted it.

"I have, of course, had offers, but I do not want Jean's name to fall into the wrong hands and be mis-used. That would be horrendous and she would have hated it."

Mr Leuckert, 77, said sales in the Conduit Street store and the brand's remaining few outlets were satisfactory but "not enough to keep us going". "Basically, the Jean Muir label never quite recovered from the loss of its figurehead," he said.

He added: "I believe there is a virtue in quitting while we are ahead and keeping her name untarnished."

Miss Muir established her label in London in 1966. A pioneer of minimalism, she became renowned for her slinky dresses in black and navy silk jersey, which flowed around the body, the more revealing for what they were concealing.

She was revered in America, and in Paris she was known as la reine de la robe.

Her international legion of fans reads as a top-drawer line-up of women celebrated as much for their careers and intellects as their fame.

As well as Lumley, Dench and Bacall they included Dame Maggie Smith, Dr Miriam Stoppard, Charlotte Rampling, Julie Walters, Patricia Hodge and Joan Plowright.