Author: Dan Johnston
Sir Nicholas Sekers
Sir Nicholas Sekers, who died on holiday in Yugoslavia on 23 June combined in a remarkable degree the qualities of designer, business mar and patron of the arts.
Miki Sekers came to Britain fron Hungary in 1937. He had been trained in textile technology a Krefeld in Germany and had already had experience of textile manufacture at the family's silk mills in Budapest.
In Britain, he set up West Cumberland Silk Mills in a depressed non" textile area at Whitehaven. During the war the factory was engaged on nylon parachute fabric, but afterwards Miki Sekers set out to establish a reputation for fashion fabrics for the dress trade, using all his exceptional flair for design and colour combined with equally exceptional energy and skill in marketing. All these qualities might still have been inadequate had they not been backed by an excellent understanding of technology which enabled him to exploit the potential of natural and man-made fibres as well as modern methods of manufacture. In this respect he had inspired support from his cousin and partner T L de Gara.
Having established his name in the fashion markets of the world, particularly with the haute couture in Paris, and established West Cumberland Silk Mills as a thriving public company, Miki Sekers next saw an opening in the world of furnishing fabrics. The same flair, energy and enthusiasm were put to work and, in 1962, his first full range was awarded the Duke of Edinburgh's Prize for Elegant Design. His fabrics made a unique contribution and in the following years the range was broadened in design concept and extended to upholstery fabrics as well as curtaining materials. A fine showroom was opened in Sloane Street.
Concurrently with all this activity and success in design and business, Miki Sekers had been making an equal if not greater contribution in the world of music. At Whitehaven, he set up the Rosehill Arts Trust, and built a theatre in the grounds of his house. He was a trustee of Glyndebourne, chairman of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, a member of Council of the Shakespeare Theatre Trust and of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. He was an extremely lively and charming person with a great sense of humour. His accent added to his appeal and he could be a great success as a speaker, particularly after dinner.
Sir Nicholas Sekers was a member of the Council of Industrial Design from 1966 to 1971. He received the MBE in 1955 and was knighted ten years later. After a very serious illness three years ago he had a major heart operation and made a good recovery, but he did not return to the business he had created. Instead, he set up a design consultancy and had recently applied his old flair to new ranges for the furnishing firm Listers of Bradford.