Lingerie queen Janet Reger dies

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The Independent Online

Janet Reger, the first lady of lingerie, has died after a long battle with cancer. She was 69.

A spokeswoman for the Janet Reger shop in Knightsbridge, central London, said: "It is confirmed that she died at 6.30pm last night."

Ms Reger had been making bras, basques, negligees and nightdresses for almost 40 years.

As the best-known maker of luxury underwear, her clients have included everyone from Jerry Hall and Rod Stewart to Princess Diana and other celebrities.

Her flagship store in Beauchamp Place has also seen a steady stream of sober-suited businessmen in the market for something special for their wives and girlfriends.

Janet was born into a Jewish family in the East End of London and studied corsetry and underwear design in Leicester.

She worked as a freelance designer before establishing Janet Reger Creations Ltd in 1967.

After a stint working for swimwear and underwear manufacturers, she went to stay on a kibbutz in Israel in the late 50s where she met German chemistry student Peter Reger, six years her junior.

They married in 1961, moved to Zurich, had a baby before settling in London.

In setting up a lingerie company Ms Reger was, in effect, carrying on the family business. Her childhood was spent in Reading where her father, a textile manufacturer, experimented with making bras.

But her flair for creating dreams out of wisps of antique lace, satin and silk, made her a household name.

With savings of £5,000 she opened a shop in a back street in Paddington, west London, with her husband Peter. He provided the business brains while she provided the creativity.

Within 10 years she owned a factory in Derbyshire and shops in Bond Street and Beauchamp Place.

In 1978, the lingerie took to the big screen, with Joan Collins wearing it in the racy film The Stud. Bianca Jagger, Angie Bowie and even the Princess Royal were customers.

But then everything fell apart.

Over–expansion helped force the business into liquidation in 1983 with debts of up to £1 million.

She lost her trademark name in a disastrous licensing agreement and was forced to start again.

Peter, who was a serial adulterer, killed himself in 1985 when their marriage finally collapsed.

A still grieving Ms Reger began to rebuild by desperately trying to raise money to buy back her trading name, which was under contract to manufacturers Berlei.

She also branched out into designing swimwear and household textiles.

She moved to Mauritius where she lived for 14 years.

Since 1998, her daughter Aliza has helped run the company.