Dr Don McCarthy

Our Founding Patron

Dr Don McCarthy – Our Founding Patron


Dr Don McCarthy CBE was a hugely successful and well respected British Entrepreneur and Philanthropist. His career in fashion retailing spanned over 40 years with Don most known for his time as Executive Chairman of House of Fraser.


In 2013, he became the British School of Fashion’s Founding Patron after he generously provided £500,000 seed funding. This transformational gift enabled the University to establish a unique postgraduate school in the heart of London, with a mission to educate, challenge and develop a new generation of fashion and luxury business leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs.


In November 2010 Don was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University in recognition of his outstanding contribution to fashion retailing. Don went on to become a great ambassador, generous donor and dear friend to the University.


His commitment has inspired other industry leaders to join him in providing not only financial support but advice and expertise that has helped to shape a unique range of programmes and experiences for our students such as inspirational masterclasses, industry placements and visits. Since opening, the British School of Fashion has graduated over 350 students.


Don has also personally supported a number of students from challenging backgrounds providing them with both the means and inspiration to continue their educational journey and realise their career ambitions.


Regularly named in Drapers top 100 most influential people in fashion retailing he received a Drapers Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015, a Retail Legends Award from the Retail Trust in also in 2015, and a CBE in 2017 for his services to business and philanthropy. These accolades recognised not only Don’s astute business acumen but also his commitment to giving back to the sector. Don regularly shared the benefit of his wisdom and offered support and mentorship to many of the UK’s leading fashion retailers today.


A generous philanthropist throughout his life, Don supported many great causes, including The Royal Marsden Hospital who treated his wife Diane and the retailing trade charity the Retail Trust.


Don sadly passed away in July 2018 after a long and courageous battle against cancer. As a way of thanking Don for his transformational gift, The British School of Fashion now fund an annual Dr Don McCarthy CBE scholarship for talented students in need, something Don was extremely humbled by.


Open Afternoon

Find out why the British School of Fashion is the right place for you.