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in d u l g e
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Flea market economy
TRAVEL TO PARIS TO FIND HIDDEN TEXTILE TREASURES
C o rr
I llu s tr a t io n s b y C h r is to ph e r
Paris is full of textile treasureif you know where to look – and that's exactly the
problem. You're in Europe's fashion capital, surrounded by designers,
trendsetters and collectors, but their secrets are well kept and you have only 24
hours, so where do you start?
To make the most of your trip, you need to get to Paris on a Friday morning,
as many shops close at the weekend. Head straight for the former
hat-making district of the city, and make Ultramod your first stop. This is the sort
of place you dream about. It's been here for well over a century, and stepping over
the threshold is like going back in time. There are actually two shops to see. On
one side of the street you'll find a huge variety of vintage trims, millinery materials,
and an incredible selection of petersham ribbon in myriad subtle colours. Much of
the stock was bought from French factories that closed during the Second World
War, so what's on offer is irreplacable. In the shop opposite, there's a vast array of
beautifully displayed ribbons, tassels, cording, and other notions.
If you prefer a bit of bling, then nearby Pappo Paulin is the place for you.
Surrounded by wholesale fabric shops, Pappo Paulin welcomes individual
customers who want small quantities. Bold and brassy, you can buy metres of
embroidered, sequined or sparkling trims, and pore over the beads, crystals and
appliqués sourced from around the world.
A ten-minute walk will take you to l'Eglise Saint-Eustache where you can
resume your treasure hunt. In the shadow of this gothic church you'll find well
known names such as Mokuba - which produces some of the world's most
exquisite ribbons. Nearby, you'll find the Parisian branch of La Droguerie. The walls
are lined with wooden drawers, and shelves heave with glass jars of buttons and
beads. There's a fabulous selection of wool skeins sold by weight and La
Droguerie's inventive pattern books are on hand to help you get started.
Weber Métaux et Plastiques, a stone's throw from the Quai des Célestins, is
one for those who like to experiment. Opened in 1889 on a street of exclusive
boutiques and small art galleries its façade blends in, but to go through the door is
to enter another world. Huge sheets of plastic in every shade, mirror tiles and metal
mesh, fibre-optics, fluorescent paint, wire of every strength and size. This is a
serious place – but there are as many artists browsing as there are engineers.
Paris is home to numerous specialists and it's impossible not to mention
at least a couple within easy reach of Weber. Fuchsia is for vintage clothing
s e l v e d g e . o r g
co n c ep t
Mann routinely turned down opportunities to design curtains and interior fabrics
c o n c e p t
se lv ed ge .o rg
With their sleek surfaces, striking motifs and vivid
planes of colour, Ptolemy Mann’s fabrics are some of
today’s most visionary textiles. They are hand woven
and pulled taut over wooden frames, much like an artist
would mount canvas onto a stretcher. Whereas a
painting is typically flat, her painterly artworks are
formed by the fibres she weaves, merging structure,
surface, colour and motif in a single expression.
Rooted in abstractions such as feeling, perception
and atmosphere, and tangibles such as architecture
and urban cityscapes, Mann's work defies traditional
textile terminology. She conducts extensive research on
colour theory and its effects on human behaviour.
Through her colour consultancy and collaborations with
architects and interior designers her work has had an
impact in clinical environments and institutional
settings. 'I'm not a scientist or a psychologist,' she says.
'I respect what they do but my approach is different.
Years of working as an artist submerged in a practical
dialogue around colour has taught me to use a more
instinctive approach. Observing reactions to my artwork
informs how I use colour. I've noticed that people like
the transition created when two or more colours merge
together. It stimulates the eye and engages the viewer.'
Mann's point of departure came while studying at
the Royal College of Art, where she exhibited her fabric
by stretching it over a frame made with 'deep' edges.
'My tutors didn't like the idea at all,' Mann recalls, 'telling
me that mounting my fabric onto a frame denied its
drape and fluidity. Luckily, I ignored them, which
enabled me to explore the architectural aspect of textiles
and take my work in an exciting direction.'
Mann graduated in 1997, and routinely turned
down opportunities to design curtains and other interior
fabrics. 'Finding environments where my work would fit
led to collaborations with architects, which enabled me
to use my knowledge of colour and texture in
environments where no textiles were used at all.'
A commission from Swanke Hayden Connell in
2004 resulted in textile panels designed for the Open
University's new library in Milton Keynes. Mann
created monolithic panels for two 12-metre high areas,
which the architects built into the walls. 'They became
one with the architecture,' Mann says. The architects
later invited Mann to create the external architectural
colour scheme for King's Mill Acute Care Hospital in
le R ow n
Nottinghamshire, commissioning her to create a
colour palette that would be used across the entire
façade of the scheme. 'It's a rural hospital, so I
looked at the scenery surrounding it and felt inspired
to use greens and blues to help anchor the building's
outer edges to the landscape,’ Mann explains. ‘The
“hottest” colour I specified was a vivid orange at the
entrance. Many children visit the hospital, so I
wanted it to be welcoming. I used colours to guide
people through the space. There are three towers,
and each has a distinct palette of seven tones of a
single colour. If someone is looking for the green
tower, they will see green details to guide them.'
Some of Mann's dialogues with architects have
yielded surprising insights into how clinical colours are
perceived. 'A hospital opened in the United States and
it became apparent that many people felt unwell when
spending time in the building,' she says. 'A specific
shade of lavender had been used throughout the
scheme. In time the staff realised it was the colour that
was affecting how people felt. In fact, people were not
reacting to the lavender itself but to its after-image.
After-images occur when the eye has had a
concentrated burst of a single colour for a period of
time. It triggers the optic nerve to create a brief flash of
its complementary opposite, so fleeting that it hardly
registers. Ever wondered why surgical scrubs and
operating theatre textiles are blue-green? It's the
complementary opposite of blood red and, because
the optic nerve recognises the complementary colour
when they look up, it prevents the surgeons getting an
after-image when they look away from an open wound.
In this case, it t urned out that the complementary
colours of lavender were the colours of vomit and bile
which was enough to make anyone feel ill.'
Mann typically looks beyond the brief to take the
client's enterprise into account. A commission from
Prof. Lesley Regan for 15 textile panels to decorate the
‘Save the Baby Unit’ at St Mary's Hospital in London
resulted in a body of work titled 'Life Spectrum' (2008).
'I developed a colour scheme to create a sense of
optimism. Colour is an extraordinary tool, and when
used deliberately, it can help people feel much better.'
As Mann's works explore the dualities of hard and
soft, colourful and colourless and unyielding and tactile,
she successfully bridges the distance between the
physicality of architecture and the ephemerality of
textiles. In designs that centre round these extremes,
Mann reveals that textile designers and architects share
a wide repertoire of skills. ••• Bradley Quinn
s e l v e d g e . o r g
“there exists a swathe of self-taught designers who operate on a small scale, supplying boutiques at home and abroad with highly desirable, distinctive clothing.”
a t t i r e
Colour me pretty IT TOOK TIME AND EFFORT BEFORE SULA WAS IN THE PINK
Fashion is a notoriously tough industryto operate within and survive, even with
extraordinary creative talent, the finest British fashion education and an address
book full of contacts. Yet, up and down the country, there exists a swathe of
self-taught designers who operate on a small scale, supplying boutiques at home
and abroad with highly desirable, distinctive, niche-market fashion clothing. And,
their collections in small boutiques give our more interesting shopping streets a
desirable 'edge' - enticing the shopper with the potential for a special 'find'.
SULA is one of these labels. The designer, owner and, until very recently, only
full-time staff member is Alison Taylor. SULA clothes are predominantly made
from silk especially dyed in pure, vibrant and exquisitely subtle colour: many
garments are reversible and combine striking juxtapositions. Signature styles
are bias cut, layered and tiered: the intention is to wear layers according to
the climate and occasion. Silk camisoles; hand-quilted silk skirts; smocked
blouses and crinkly ballet wraps; 1930s style 'wash' frocks and glamorous,
belted dresses are supplemented each season with directional pieces - such
as the silk jodhpurs presented this summer. SULA garments are made in
Vietnam, where the silk is woven and dyed. Many items are embellished with
hand-crafted detailing such as understated, yet ornate, hand stitching.
After taking a fine art degree, Alison drifted into waitressing: the years
passed by and it was not until she endured a leg injury in a car crash that
s e l v e d g e . o r g
Contents INDULGEtextiles to buy, collect or simply admire 15 Capital idea Must-haves from the boulevards of Paris 38Sheet music Does crisp cotton or fine linen hit the right note in summer 75 Guiding Hand A domestic love affair
INDUSTRY from craft to commerce 45 Root and branch Fashion’s family tree is tall and spreading 56 Threads of time The beautiful silks of La Maison Georges Le Manach 62 Straight and narrow The future is on the line for the art of perfect, precise pleats
ANECDOTEtextiles that touch our lives 68 COVER STORYWearable artThe decorative designs of Paul Poiret and Raoul Dufy 96 Red or deadRevolutionary fashion
CONCEPTtextiles in fine art 21 COVER STORYChromatic scalePtolemy Mann doesn’t shy away from the bigger challenges
ATTIRE critical reporting of fashion trends 26 Colour me pretty It took time and effort before Sula was in the pink
COHABIT stunning interiors beautifully photographed 30 Home helpRice offers consumers the chance to brighten more than just a room or two 52 Childish behaviour The gleeful world of Nathalie Lété
GLOBAL travel destinations and ethnographic textiles 34 The bold and the beautiful Augusto Panini’s glorious collection of glass beads 48 COVER STORYFlea market economy Travel to Paris to find hidden textile treasures
in f o r
Although these small, multicoloured glass or stone objects pierced by a simple hole can seem banal at first,
in truth, they have infinite
stories to tell: stories of
the artisans who
T h e b o l d a n d thebeautif ul A U G U S T O P A N I N I ’ S C O L L E C T I O N O F M I D D L EEASTERNANDVEN ETIANG LASSB EADS
Multicoloured beads of glass or stoneare the small stars of thousands of
markets throughout Africa. It is difficult to wander through the shaded lanes of any
major city's main square, or in the dusty heat of a village market parched by the
sun and stranded amid the desert sands, without noticing them.
At first glance, the eye wanders both rapt and lost in these small, often
highly refined objects strung together in fantastic, asymmetric, essential and
sometimes sober compositions, with none of the preciousness and symmetry of
Western jewellery, yet at the same time lively and attractive thanks to their strong
African stylistic imprint. Western travellers easily find themselves drawn in by
these coloured beads, and quickly find themselves wondering: who made these;
when, where; why are they here? At this point one feels lost, irresistibly attracted
to these colourful small objects, and needs to know more about them, wants to
possess more of them, and the bead collector's passion has been firmly instilled.
Augusto Panini, author of Middle Easern and Venetian Glass Beads, began
just like that, struck like lightning by this passion as he wandered the markets of
Sahel, and found himself lost in a world he soon realised was truly immense.
Although these small, multicoloured glass or stone objects pierced by a simple
hole can seem banal at first, in truth, they have infinite stories to tell: stories of the
artisans who made them, often with surprisingly sophisticated techniques; stories
of the merchants who, since ancient times, spread them by boat across the seas,
or on camel caravans across vast deserts; stories of the people who used beads
to mark the important events of their lives, such as marriage, major festivals, to
c o h a b i t
Home help RICE OFFERS CONSUMERS THE CHANCE TO BRIGHTEN MORE THAN JUST A
In times of recession we all need cheering up.
While the boom years licensed spending and
retail therapy across the board, these harder
times shift the emphasis back to the possibilities
of our homes as our sanctuary.
And although you may not be able to afford
to redecorate at the moment, you can still
transform a dull room through a few well chosen
shots of co-ordinating colour. Danish home wares
and accessories company, Rice, celebrate ten
years of trading this year. They combine designs
inspired by the 'good old days' with a strong
commitment to fair trade. The result is vibrant ideas
which bring just the right amount of brightness and
fun to our homes without a huge price tag.
Their stock is made in Madagascar, Thailand
and India, in ethical surroundings, but Rice also
gives direct help to humanitarian emergencies in
the Third World by means of their ‘Cups Full of
Hope’, a joint project with the Danish Refugee
Council. Every time a pack of four cups is sold,
a water and washing kit is sent where it is
desperately needed. Last year, Rice launched a
similar idea, ‘Spoon Full of Hope’, which sent
cooking sets to 7,200 families within war zones
in Darfur and Somalia in Africa.
It is not surprising to discover that Rice was
the first company in Denmark to be awarded
prestigious social accountability accreditation
(SA8000). Their wonderful motto, “no one can
help everyone, but everyone can help someone”
makes giving aid seem like a manageable target.
Director Charlotte Gueniau, a Dane, and
her French husband Philippe started Rice with
one design – a square raffia storage basket in
vivid block colours inspired by a holiday in
Thailand. Today this is a design classic, a
simple, ultra functional shape, made jolly with
a palette of indigo, scarlet, fuchsia or lime.
Put six together along a low shelf and you
immediately have a striking feature which will
hide clutter, organise your laundry or keep
books, toys or kitchen equipment tidy. This is
only one of many items, each of which has a
tale to tell about people whose lives have taken
.r ic e .d k .
ROOM OR TWO; THE LIVES OF WORKERS AROUND THE WORLD
on a new purpose and possibility through work.
The company’s designs concentrate on colour
interpreted in different ways and in different
materials. Cushions are covered in a rainbow of
Suffolk puffs, and crisp white waffle-weave bed
spreads are decorated with ruby crochet cherries.
One of the most interesting Rice products is a large
laminated shopping bag made from fabric and
newspaper strips sewn together. Its roomy design
and fashionable appearance belies the fact that
it is made by carers not far from New Delhi.
The project is known as Lakshya, which
translates as “aim”. The aim in question is to
rescue street children and give them a home,
schooling and, eventually, work. The project is
run by Ramesh Kumar and his wife, who both
know about street living from harsh experience.
Charlotte's design influence comes across
strongly. As mother to two young children, a boy
and a girl, home plays an enormous part in her
psyche, a haven of comfort and serenity,
surrounded by the elemental things of life…
growing things in the garden, the sight and
sound of water, the fresh scent of baking and the
comfort of soft throws and blankets. “Having a
home, where you can hang out and feel
completely relaxed is a priority for me… it helps
me cope with the events that sometimes shatter
our everyday lives,” says Charlotte. “Sometimes
when I am away on business, missing my
family… I meditate on the quiet, beautiful feeling
I get when I am at home.”
Her instinct is to add colour in splashes to the
cool Scandinavian palette that is so familiar to her.
Just as wooden houses painted in whites and greys
make the perfect backdrop for a scarlet geranium
on a windowsill, or a gilded frame is more arresting
when glimpsed through a doorway, Rice enlivens
the backdrop to our lives by adding rich colour and
decoration to the items we use every day.
And this is what Rice is really about…
celebrating the joy and comfort of home, of
handmade things which take time and enhance
the quality of life without abusing others across
the world to provide it. ••• Eivlin Roden
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INFORMthe latest news, reviews and exhibition listings
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SELVEDGE('selnid 3) n. 1. finished differently 2. the nonfraying edge of a length of woven fabric. [: from SELF + EDGE]
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