Her great-grandfather had been a tailor to Emperor Franz Josef of Austria and her grandfather Franz William Kaupe arrived in England in the 1890s to avoid conscription and carry on his father’s trade as a court tailor in Savile Row. As small boys, Ann’s father and two uncles were sent to work in the attic workshop of a large house in Sistova Road, Balham, to learn tailoring skills.
William became a master tailor in Burlington Arcade on Piccadilly and made uniforms for senior officers of the army, navy and air force throughout the Second World War. While her brothers had careers as a structural engineer and architect, Ann was attracted to tailoring from an early age. Her initial forays involved cutting up her bedspread and making her first evening dress, at age 13, from “bilious green satin”. Far from pleasing her father, he seemed appalled, demanding to know: “Why doesn’t the thread match?”