Monday, September 29, 2014

All wrapped up with shawls, sheep and a social vocation: Teixidors

photo le figaro

Eco-pâturage/eco-grazing in Paris

I love wool. I feel I need to say, I still love wool.  Do you? 
It sometimes feels like we're a dying breed, those of us who appreciate wool - and other natural fibers for that matter. People who speak of fleece today are usually talking about polyester! Wool in most inexpensive to mid-level brands is getting rarer and rarer and when present, usually in blends, it is mostly of inferior quality taken from dead sheep, sometimes pulled off with chemicals. 
On the other hand, the pure new (virgin) wool that is produced today has never been better. Just as our hair is healthier and more attractive when we eat the the right things, the quality of wool has improved considerably with dietary changes. The nutritional needs of sheep have been studied to produce softer, finer quality wool entirely different from that of the itchy pants of yesteryear and the pill prone, low-grade blends of today. 

The animals in the picture don't give us their wool, but because I love wool, I tend to like sheep, too, so I thought I would show them anyway !
These sheep are good little alternative lawn mowers, part of the eco-grazing campaign
in Paris started in 2013.

17th century Brussels tapestry
Vertumnus, Roman god of the seasons and change
The first crisp, cool winds of  Autumn always seem to nip harder than what comes later in the season. And though, of course, it gets much colder later on, I always feel those first shivers more intensely. It's a little crazy, but once my head is used to the idea of cold, my body is more easily braced for chills and I don't notice them as much..
There are those who have trouble saying goodbye to golden summer who tend to cling desperately to light summer garb. They put away sandals and  pull on socks again only with the greatest reluctance. Not only their feet risk strangulation but socks can be the bell toll for all
those idealized summer days.
The problem is obviously worse for these people, I am not generally one of them, but I've been a little stubborn about clearing out my  lightweight wear this year feeling that my summer clothes weren't needed much and that we might just get a little more warm weather yet.
(Translate: summer was more crummy than golden.)

But even if you are ready and eager to change wardrobes for the season , there's always a day or two when you are under- or over-dressed dependant on the whims of those trickster weather gods.

My solution is layering and especially, carrying a lightweight wool shawl or scarf to greet these these first chills and temperamental temperatures. I like being able to tuck one into my bag or toss it over my shoulders and take it on and off easily throughout the day. The bother of a heavy-ish jacket is avoided and an extra gleam of color doesn't hurt. Boys and girls of all ages can benefit from this sort of teddy bear carry-along-comfort during the day.

 Ocre throw 50% mohair 50% linen
all photos to the end of post: Teixidors
These mohair and linen scarves above by Teixidors are sumptuous. I had the pleasure of becoming acquainted with this Spanish brand from just outside of Barcelona earlier this month. First I was drawn to the products textures and beautiful materials - merinos, cachemire, mohair, yak - 

and then I also learned that  their scarves, throws, blankets were handwoven as part of a project of social insertion for people with learning disabilities that was started thirty years ago. These people learn satisfying skilled work using the best European fibers; the end result is something anyone would be proud of. 

Jazz blanket
100% cashmere
 These cashmere blankets have the colorful woven irregular cordings that have become 
Teixidors' trademark.

Verdon throws
100% ecological French Merinos wool

Apt throw
100% Merinos

50% yak 50% Merinos

Teixidors is part of the best wave of Now into the Future that we could all hope to build. 
 Products that are traceable. Real quality. True beauty. Active humanitarian concerns.

Shiver no more!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Sage green Splendeur at Compiègne

all photos Le style et la matière/St Tyl

The Salle de Conseil at the château de Compiègne has only a few elements in it - 
but oh, 
what there is is a precious sight.

Compiègne was one of the only châteaux, along with Versailles and Fontainebleau, where the king held Council. The tapestry behind the bureau shows the Passage of the Rhine by Louis XIV.

Velvet bedecked with passementeries and a lampas carefully cut-out and applied  
to form a rolling leafy border.

all photos Le style et la matière/St Tyl

At the window,
the here uncut border of lampas with its tawny ground weave sets off the oak leaf pattern.The leaves detach themselves from the ground with finely woven effect of cast shadows.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Petite toile, belle toilette

In the Middle Ages, a small, fine cloth or toilette (towelette) was used to cover clothing as a protection from insects and dust. The various and sundry articles necessary for a woman's or a man's personal grooming and embellishment were also wrapped inside such a small cloth and tucked away  when not in use, to be laid out in the morning when it was time to dress.   

Abraham BosseLes Cinq Sens, v. 1638 : La Vue
By the 17th century the "little cloth" might be of plain or decorated linen, or it could be a luxurious silk or sometimes even a small tapestry served as a wrapper for these necesary items. Now, the cloth, its contents, as well as the process were known as la toilette.

Jean-Francois de Troy
Dame à sa toilette recevant un cavalier
"J'avais ce matin un Provençal, un Breton, un Bourguignon, à ma toilette," 

Mme Sévigné.

Little by little, in the 18th century, the piece of furniture supporting the toilette 
very naturally became known as the table de toilette.

Elle passe des heures à sa toilette!

Clothing and all manner of finery being  part of the process from the start,
a lady's dress once worn took on the same expression, la toilette.

The room cabinet de toilette and toilette(ladies'/men's room) came later
but then someone put a halt to the spreading of the word before everything was called toilette!

Avec le rare sentiment d'harmonie qui les caractériseles femmes ont compris qu'il y avait une sorte de dissonance entre la grande toilette et la figure naturelle.
Avec le rare sentiment d'harmonie qui les caractérise, les femmes ont compris qu'il y avait une sorte de dissonance entre la grande toilette et la figure naturelle.

With the rare feeling of harmony that characterizes them, women have realized that there was a kind of dissonance between the elegant toilette and the natural state.

Théophile Gautier  La Peau de tigre 

photo St Tyl

Embroidered linen  toilette from 1640 , Musée de la Renaissance at Ecouen

for another cloth that gave a name to a piece of furniture, here

and a very particular table de toilette, here

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Just last week: Maison & Objet

all photos Le style et la matière

It's a sophisticated monster of a salon professionel -  and this is only one of the 8 halls from which it hails at the Parc des expositions to the north of Paris twice a year in September and in January. But you know of it, of course,Maison & Objet.  80,000 buyers, 4000 journalists, and you?

Since last year it has arrived in Asia (Singapore) and in May 2015 there will be Maison & Objet Americas located in Miami Beach,
 It is exhausting and essential, almost exhaustive and essentiel with its 3000 exhibitors from the world of decoration. How will it export? It will certainly retain it's French concept - but what character? It will be interesting to see how local savors will blend into this already international colossus.

This show doesn't stop with what has been designed and produced; it takes a leading edge in lifestyle and creative concepts. One thing I really appreciate are the forays into the artistic and conceptual that don't stray too much from the idea of the tangible object. It's not an easy exercise.

This is the entry to Elisabeth Leriche's Observatoire exhibit that explores the dynamic of words in our hyper-connected world right now. Continuous news coverage, twiterature, the ever growing flow of social networking - we're more wordy than ever. The only way to be distinguished from the mottled mass is with a finely chiseled text and a new attention to the plasticity of police.

Story Vases
These wires were made into vase-shaped moulds into which glass was blown. With the Story Vases, Front Design used its conceptual approach to design, material and narrative to explore new ways of working with Zulu bead craft in collaboration with the Siyazama Project.

Siyazama women traditionally work with beads. Each vase here tells one of their personal stories.

rain that drips from the end of tree branches
rain that falls mixed with dust and pollen

spring rain
 autumn or winter rain

Nendo, Rain Bottle
A different approach to words:
the Japanese language has nearly 100 words for rain dependant on the climatic conditions and the area where it falls. Nendo interprets 20 different types of drops, captured in acrylic bottles.

Ebon Heath liberates letters from the page

and quotes Maya Angelou,

I believe a word is a thing. It is non visible and audible only for the time it is there. 
It hangs in the air but I believe that it is a thing. I believe it goes into the upholstery and then into
the rugs and into my hair  and into my clothes. Finally into my body. I believe that words are things and I live on them.
I'm just saying. Mind you it's just an idea that words are things.

The text on the wall is by Adrien Frutger:

The most important thing I have learned is that legibility and beauty stand close together and that type design, in its restraint, should be only felt but not perceived by the reader. 

I hope I'll be hearing from you about the Asian and Americas versions of this
15 year old French salon. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Telling Transparence

School of Fontainebleau
Museum of Art and History Geneva

La nature, qui sur l'invisible met le masque du visible, 
n'est qu'une apparence corrigée 
par une transparence.
Victor Hugo

Nero's second wife was said to be calculating. Through her scheming Sabina Poppaea ousted Empress number 1 and took her place. Ambitious and without scruples, reported Tacite. Beauty alone with no other qualities, agree all but one of the historians from the ancient world. Flavius Josephus on the contrary believed her to be extremely religious to the point of proselytism.

Most see an seductive vision of beauty in this painting. To me, she is a ravishing
spider waiting in the center of its web, gazing out from the thin, circling folds of her veil.

Portrait of Cardinal Filippo Archinto, 1556
Philidelphia Museum of Art
The Philidelphia Museum of Art says of this portrait with a translucid curtain, "the unusual portrayal of this man can be explained by facts known about his life. Archinto was appointed archbishop of Milan in 1556, but political troubles prevented his taking possession of the post. The veil obscuring him from view stands for these difficulties. The episcopal ring, which the artist carefully reveals just outside the veil, symbolizes Archinto's legal right to office." Another portrait without the veil is held in the Metropolitain.

Eric Rondepierre
from the series: Précis de décomposition ,Masques
silver gelatin print on aluminum
This is a veil, but not a cloth. In his series Précis de décomposition, photographer, Eric Rondepierre worked with archival fragments of anonymous silent movies that had been corroded by the effects of time, humidity and poor storage. Here a woman from a forgotten scenario stares from behind what appears to be a panel of lace.

Revealing, isn't it?

Nature, putting the mask of the visible over the invisible,
is only an appearence corrected by a transparence.
Victor Hugo

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

I'm moving in with a friend

René Magritte
Les mémoires d'un saint
 Le style et la matière has been dormant and yet it still feels like a good home to come back to.

I've decided to take up residence here again and to move in with my textile blog, St Tyl.
Many topics concerning textiles over-flow into other domaines. This merging of the two blogs will permit me to be more playful and touch on other topics while continuing to explore textiles with all  the readers and fellow bloggers I appreciate so much.
 Fortunately, I've learned that exporting blogs is very simple!

So starting tomorrow, everything will be in one place.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Hair of the Beast(s): Angora

via skiourophilia
Jean Honoré Fragonard and Marguerite Gérard
Le chat Angora 1783

 The painting was the collaborative effort of two artists.
"Marguerite Gérard and Jean-Honoré Fragonard worked so closely together – sharing a studio in the Louvre – that the paintings of  one are occasionally attributed to the other. For a long time Gérard, who was Fragonard’s sister-in-law and pupil, was thought to be the sole painter of this work, but it is now considered to be a joint production by both artists."
(The Wallraf-Richartz Museum)

Anyone would admit that it is the cat poised to attack his reflection in a gazing globe that steals the scene here. The Angora was the first long haired cat to arrive in Europe. Angora was the ancient name for Ankara, the capital of Turkey. Once in France, these companions were royal favorites from Louis XIII up to Louis XVI. Their elegance represented another facette of luxurious court life.

This charming genre scene shows an admirable rendering of satin folds and a colorful, long  fringed Turkish rug cascading off a table, but why is the painting, The Angora Cat, on St Tyl today? 

a modern day angora cat
With a wave of its paw, the cat in the painting has reminded me of other angora fibers that have nothing to do with cats. Or do they? Do they all come from Turkey? 
Some say that it is the silky fur of this popular puss that gave its name to the rest of the angora animals.

a French albino angora rabbit
Despite the existence of angora cats, sheep, and goats, the wool of the angora rabbit is the only fiber to be labeled as such in the textile industry. Its hollow hair causes its loft --the characteristic fuzzy, floating quality associated with angora fibers. It is much warmer than sheep wool, but since it is extremely fine and fragile and not very elastic, angora wool is rarely used alone. 

Some of the best quality angora fibers are obtained by combing the rabbits over-abundant coat at sheeding periods though shearing and other more violent methods have been decried in recent years.

an angora goat
photo: MH Perraud
Mohair France

 The fleece of the angora goat provides the wool called mohair.
From Turkey via Tibet, the word mohair comes from the Arabic  mukhayar meaning the best or most beautiful one. This lusterous, silky fiber is known for its beautiful color variations and its durable strength. (Strangely, the word mohair will then provide the term moire; my guess is that those shaded colors bore a resemblance to the ondulations of watered silk.)
Mohair doesn't stretch or pill so it is ideal for both high quality clothing and upholstry.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Fabrics in the Louvre, bis

photo St Tyl
Salon Pisani
  named for it's ceiling fresco (not shown here) originally located in the Palazzo Pisani à Venise 
Tapestries: The story of Don Quixote  1732-36

photo St Tyl
reproduction à l'identique of an 18th century chinoiserie silk
woven by Tassinari & Chatel

photo St Tyl
fire screen with tapestry from the
Manufacture de Beauvais 1690-1750

photo St Tyl
salle Château d'Abondant
 mid 18th century

photo St Tyl

photo St Tyl
Reproduction of an 18th century painted silk
from Château d'Abondant

Tissus Pierre Frey