Monday, December 22, 2014

Where to find textile treasures in Paris


photo: Le style et la matière
precious fabric wound around wooden dowels  
It is possible for anyone in Paris to find a gold mine of fashion fabrics
and like many of the very best things, this treasure is hidden in plain sight!

My neighbor just asked me where to go for fabric in view of some very special occasions where she must be dressed en conséquence. I was pleased to pass along a very good address and thought some of you would appreciate it too.

photo: Le style et la matière
wish you could touch this too!

In fact, this shop isn't really hidden at all, but its unassuming storefront will have been passed up by more than one fabric enthusiast if she hasn’t been informed of the location in advance. Costume-makers and stylists, however, all know about this Aladdin's cave of fabrics. The good thing is, you don't have to be a textile professional to go to De Gilles Tissus. Venture past the plain threshold and the promise of fabric marvels awaits -many rarely accessible to the general public -
yet the atmosphere is undeniably nonchalant.

You might not even notice the famed Schiapperelli lobster design framed on the wall behind the front desk; it's half hidden by photos of family, friends and the exotic travels of the shop's owner, Catherine Kouliche-Goldman. Some of the fruit of those trips, suzanis and ikats are hanging nearby too, jostling the French silk in a neighborly way. You might say it's the colorful movie posters lining the stairwell that hint at  the uncommonly high level of interest of the material here. Yes,
 along side Vincent Lindon, Audrey Tautou, Jean Dujardin etc, etc, we could say,
also starring De Gilles Tissus!

photo: Le style et la matière
The puckers of a rose-colored couture cloqué fabric

The majority of the merchandise is French, a portion of it comes from the UK and Italy, but most importantly every single fabric found in the shop has been chosen individually by Catherine Goldman, who guarantees its quality. Not for her, the bargain-container approach that some in the field practice. Catherine is the third generation owner in her family, though the trade has changed along the years from wholesale to retail. Her stock today is a treasure trove of articles from buttons, ribbons and even vintage pantyhose to truly precious stuffs otherwise destined for couture houses. There are gold and silver braids and trim from a  passementier specialized in metallics, fabrics from the 50s-80s of mills now defunct, overstock from today's manufacturers, as well as a more limited selection of valuable hand-crafted items from Uzbekistan, Indonesia, Peru....

photo: Le style et la matière

This magnificent silk velvet on transparent ground has the flavor a Gruau illustration and I would guess it comes from the great house of Bouton-Renaud in Lyon known for hand-painted and high novelty articles of this sort. 


photo: Le style et la matière
floral lampas/brocade
De Gilles provides mostly high fashion fabrics but there are exceptions and of course, your own creativity can come into play here. The haute couture is well-known for using furnishing fabrics to suit its own ends, I say these things can go both ways with a little good judgement. After all, the notion of specificity between fashion and furnishing fabrics only came about in the late 18th century. So, a length for a skirt, a bit more for drapes - Scarlet did make a dress of her curtains....

photo: Le style et la matière
Vintage meets South American

photo: Le style et la matière

Some of France's finest -
warp printed silks with their distinctive soft blurred appearance and full-bodied crisp handle.


photo: Le style et la matière


photo: Le style et la matière
Fancy silks

photo: Le style et la matière
Crunchy tweeds

photo: Le style et la matière
reworked tweed
photo: Le style et la matière
Mmmmm, fabulous highly textured yanked wool

photo: Le style et la matière
The coppery coating of this Grand-Siècle-inspired design gives this fabric a lot of punch!

photo: Le style et la matière


photo: Le style et la matière
This billowy silk mousseline (chiffon) was printed to resemble an Indonesian ikat 

photo: Le style et la matière


photo: Le style et la matière
Among the exotic textiles can be found a few costumes and hats.

photo: Le style et la matière
 Rare lacquered silk brought back from Taiwan.
This ancient artisanal technique that uses mud to achieve a noble,
almost leathery look with a subtle sheen.

photo: Le style et la matière
cotton, linen, hemp - here a mix of weaves in bold blue ramie

photo: Le style et la matière
threads left hanging - but oh, what threads!

And another part of the treasure is Catherine Goldman herself. She is no-run-of-the-mill shop owner! She was educated at the Ecole du Louvre, understands the arts and is passionate about fabric's place among them - as well as in world economy.

Like many of us in the textile profession, Catherine has become more and more concerned with the problem of the diminishing quality of textiles today and what's more, with the steady loss of the textile culture. She does her part to remedy to the problem by raising consciousness through a very lively blog called Passion Textiles that I warmly recommend. You will find articles on the history of various fabrics and their techniques, reporting on the textile craft from around the globe, as well as practical tips on care and some op-ed pieces, too.

Mass production and the battle of always more-for-less has led to a certain disregard for fabrics. What was once valued as essential and often precious is taken for granted because too often it is replaced with ersatz materials that don't last a season. Those who have not been educated to distinguish quality often settle for what is easiest and cheapest to obtain.
We live with textiles everyday. They are our second skin. They transform our homes. Don't settle.

De Gilles Tissus
156 Rue de la Roquette
75011 Paris

8 comments:

  1. That is unbelievable Gesbi. I can not imagine as I know so little about textiles. What would I do with them. I guess just to look would be enough. Happiest holidays to you.

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  2. Donna, you are so creative that I'm sure if you were let loose there you'd suddenly have a million ideas. So many times I have come back with 1 1/2 meters to make a quick scarf with a fabric I just couldn't leave behind... Merry Christmas!

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  3. post de reve - plein de passion et de consequence. merci!

    have a wonderful, peaceful, restful, delicious xmas. best wishes for 2015.

    bises.

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  4. Absolutely glorious Gespi! I want to wish you a wonderful Holiday Season and a Happy New Year!

    xoxo
    Karen
    The Arts by Karena

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  5. Beautifully written post on a subject that is dear to my heart having grown up in a family that was surrounded by cloth. The proprietor of this shop has a keen eye for quality, texture and color which is evident in the amazing selection of cloth that is available here. A national treasure of a shop if you ask me.

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  6. Mlle Paradis, Karena, Lady Domus,

    Thank you all for your comments. I hope the three of you will have the finest Christmas stockings - be they of Merinos, tafetta, velvet, linen...good wishes to you all!

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  7. Merry Christmas!! I'm sorry, but due to studies and endless photography I have been so slow to write&look. Thank you for your comment.

    Here we have textile production due to the interest for folk costume. In Norway it is the ultimate couture, what you would wear to an audience with the king, a wedding or a christening. I will try to photograph the latest bound sometime soon.

    I also talked to a lady in Amsterdam, lovely slik shop, she said that it has become more and more difficult to find fabrics for tha shop... Beaks my heart as I find textiles a huge investment in life quality.

    Regards, Kristin Linnea

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  8. Hello Kristina. I love that in Norway your nation costume tradition makes people sensitive to history and craftsmanship.

    If we want to continue to have beautiful fabrics and not loose the techniques and even the machinery it takes to create them, we have to first become aware of quality production and next be willing to buy better and less. Sounds like your way, but for many, it means swimming against stream!

    Hope you had a lovely Christmas and that the season is still aglow for you!

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