Joseph Ettedgui was born in Morocco on February 22 1936, the son of a shopkeeper who had the ambitions for his son to become a doctor or a solicitor.
In 1960 Joseph and his brother Maurice arrived in London from Casablanca, with the dream to become hairdressers. In 1962 the brothers opened a hairdressing salon in the King’s Road, being joined two years later by their other brother, Franklin. At this time he was already intensely interested in fashion, and began to display a few choice items from designers he admired, such as Kenzo, Emmanuelle Khanh, and Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, alongside the hairdryers. Then, in the 1970s, he opened his first shop, in Sloane Street, Knightsbridge.
He had no background in fashion, but he did have a good eye and a knack for retailing. He also believed in giving women what they wanted – in the King's Road salon he had made a particular point of identifying this.
His first store was designed by Norman Foster, it offered monochrome decor and predominantly black stock, and was soon a destination of a fashionable clientele from around the world.
Soon, too, designers and pioneers of style were keen to be showcased in his stores. At Joseph Pour la Maison, for example, he introduced the work of figures such as the home stylist Maryse Boxer and the Czech architect and designer Eva Jiricna – the latter helped Joseph to style several of his homes.
Joseph is credited with revolutionising knitwear, investing it with a new and understated chic. Meanwhile, during the economic downturn of the early 1990s he came up with the low-cut, narrow-legged Joseph trousers that were an immediate hit with fashionable women.
From small beginnings in the 1960s he established shops across the world, among them more than 20 stores in London, four in New York and four in Paris. There were also shops in Leeds and Mancheste.
In 2005 Joseph (as chairman of the business) and his brother Franklin (as chief operating officer) shared more than L20 million when the chain was sold to a Japanese clothing company for L140 million. They had sold the majority of their equity in 1999 to a consortium of Belgian and French investors, with Joseph personally making just over L30 million from the sale.
In 1998 he bought Connolly, the leather company famous for designing the interiors of Jaguars and where his wife, Isabel, had been creative director.
Joseph Ettedgui had been suffering from cancer and died on March 18 in a London hospital. He is survived by his English wife of 20 years, Isabel (née Pritchard), and their daughter, Gigi, and two sons, Peter and Paul, from a previous marriage.
Ettedgui's own Joseph lines, which slowly gained in popularity, have always complemented the other labels he sells. They provide classic garments to be mixed with other designer wear, or constitute carefully designed and coordinated outfits themselves. Joseph pour la Ville provides smart suiting and witty, easy to wear casuals. Alongside the bright, bold, striped trouser suits with shiny gilt buttons he produced in 1989 were more relaxed and feminine sheer georgette skirts and multicolored waistcoats, the subtle shades of which added a twist to the more pervasive dark hues. His ranges always contain clothes for every occasion, directed at the sophisticated metropolitan. The silhouette is usually well defined, to enhance the wearer with its simple chic.