But in 1991 Princess Diana began to purchase Ronit Zilka clothes, which, for a young designer, was an amazing achievement.The Brook Street boutique was literally and metaphorically my shop window: a place to find off-the-peg glamour for women without the time or budget to attend endless appointments with couturiers.

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I had spent two years doing my national service in Israel - customising my uniform so it was more stylish, naturally - and I was impatient to begin my real career.

I did my first collection for a niche retailer who sold French clothes in London.

It began below the knee and had become a mini by the time my mother dragged me out of it. It was 1991, my husband Ofer and I were young and naive and Britain was deep in recession.

I drew my own patterns, cut the fabrics and made the clothes. We made an offer on the lease of two shops, one in Hampstead and one in Brook Street, Central London, and decided we'd take whichever came up first. And it was within their walls that I began what I consider my quiet revolution.

The company that owned my eponymous fashion label went bust with debts of £3.5million, my shops closed their doors for the last time and there was a fire sale of stock.

There was no showdown, no brutal sacking or confrontation, just a gradual sense of loss.I felt like a cartoon character sliding towards the edge of a cliff, clinging on for a final few months before finally falling into the abyss.I was born 42 years ago in Tel Aviv, the daughter of Aziz, now 75, and Rachel, 70.When I finally started fashion college and saw a domestic sewing machine, my first thought was how small it was - I'd only ever known the great old industrial one.Our home was like an extension of the factory with odd metres of off-cuts in towering heaps of different colours and textiles.My mother made them seem like a world of possibility - she was forever running up clothes for me and my siblings.