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Of rubies, of stained glass, of amaranth velvets, the illustrious colour of great Rome, the antique murex,

the clothes of the priests of Israel with bare faces flushed with the dawn of youth.

Dress by Issey Miyake 19th century Portuguese statue of the boy Jesus, from Florence

Martin Antiquaire, Paris

Shades of the infinite, celestial blue of the colour spectrum. An immaterial blue, like the skin of Krishna or the robe of Mary,

so close and yet so otherworldly.

Dress by Jil Sander

Statue of Saint Michael, from Art et Religion, Paris

Photography by Michael Baumgarten

Gold - valued for its colour, lustre and luminescence,its malleability and ductility, it has been gathered and mined for thousands of years. Symbolising the

sun, wisdom, eternity and power, it is given as a token of esteem and affection, 'And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with

Mary his mother, and fell down and worshipped him: and when they had

opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, frankincense and myrrh.' (Matthew 2:11)

Most commonly used in coinage and jewellery, gold is also used in extraordinary and unexpected ways: as a medicine, in food and wine, in the

beauty industry as a facial treatment, and along with other precious metals such

as platinum and silver, gold has been used for centuries in fabrics. Summer 2008, and a £240,000 wedding dress headlines in the Hatton

Garden Jewellery Week in London. Designed by Mauro Adami, the dove-grey fabric and lace for the dress were woven from silk and platinum, one of the

world's most expensive metals. Eighty-five years earlier, in an article cover

ing the forthcoming wedding of the then Princess Mary in 1922, theNew York Times announced, 'Princess Mary's gown to be a cloth of silver...

the fabric woven in India...' As with platinum, and to a lesser extent, silver, gold became

known as a 'noble' metal because it is chemically stable and

can be exposed to the atmosphere for long periods of time without tarnishing; it can also be salvaged and melted


down repeatedly without much change in its properties, or loss in weight – the original recyclable material! While still used in the detailing of ceremonial

uniforms such as purl work insignia, tassels, cords and other regalia, the process of combining precious or 'noble' metal wire – normally gold or

silver, with wool, silk, linen and cotton – whether through construction or

embellishment, is now uncommon. Its history, however, is ancient, widespread and multicultural.

The process of wire drawing has remained unchanged for centuries, in that having been annealed, (softened through heating), a small piece of

metal is pulled repeatedly through a series of conical holes in a steel plate

of ever-decreasing diameter, simultaneously thinning and stretching the metal. Because of its ductility, fine gold can be drawn into a wire that is

literally 'a hair's breadth' in thickness, and can be used in place of a thread in the construction of a piece of fabric or garment. Similarly by

hammering, a small piece of gold can be stretched and thinned into a

fine foil, from which thin, flat strips can be cut to be added into or onto a fabric surface, or wound round a silk core to create a weightier strand.

The use of gold in textiles is thought to have originated more than two and a half thousand years ago in China, where it was combined with silk

to produce richly ornamented fabrics that became known as 'brocades'

the term brocade being composed of the root of the word for 'metal' and the phonetic for 'silk cloth'. Brocades, along with the knowledge and skill







Courtesy ofV&A Museum

This winter the V&A presents a selection of Russian Emperors' clothing

from the significant but little known collection of ceremonial and fashionable dress preserved in the Armoury Chamber of the Moscow

Kremlin Museums. It displays the range, exuberance, and quality of fabrics used at the Russian court in the 18th and 19th centuries. Recent

research by Svetlana Amelekhina, the Russian curator responsible for

these clothes, reveals how they were made and used, and what they meant in their ceremonial context.

Particularly enticing for textile aficcionados, is the wardrobe of the teenage Emperor Peter II who acceded to the throne in 1727 at the age of

12 and died unexpectedly of smallpox three years later. Just before his

death Mrs Thomas Ward, wife of the British Consul General to Russia witnessed him dressed for the first phase of his betrothal in 'a light

coloured cloth, trimmed with silver' and noted less than tactfully in a letter: 'He is very tall, and large-made for his age... he is fair, but much

tanned from hunting, has good features, but a down look, and though he

is young and handsome, has nothing attractive nor agreeable.' Decades later, in 1766, Catherine the Great ordered that Peter's entire wardrobe be

preserved in the State Armoury. Cut in Western European style, the 36 complete outfits including uniforms, hunting attire and court dress form a

capsule aristocratic wardrobe from the third decade of the 18th century.

The V&A's tantalising taster of this magnificence includes Peter's coronation waistcoat, an officer's uniform from the Semenovsky Life

Guards Regiment, two full-length silk housecoats, a short silk banyan (housecoat in Oriental style), a 'soul-warmer' (a padded waistcoat with

detachable sleeves, suitable for wearing as a middle layer of clothing

during the cold Russian

winters), a full-length nightshirt, stockings, gloves and a

pair of gaiters. The rather worn gaiters act as a salutary

reminder that the teenage Tsar

preferred sport to state duties. Peter's francophile wardrobe

reveals one aspect of his grandfather's success in modernizing Russia, by adopting

aspects of social, political and cultural life from

Western Europe. Peter I (better known as 'Peter the Great') travelled extensively in Europe at the

end of the 17th century and promoted Western European fashionable dress from

1690 onwards. Between 1701 and 1724

he issued 17 decrees making such dress compulsory for the urban population of

Russia. He also initiated what became the tradition of preserving

the Emperor's attire from each

coronation in the Armoury – a practice he had observed at

other courts on his travels in Europe, notably in





The silk route


Sudbury, in Suffolk is one of the most

important weaving towns in Europe and the jewel in its crown is The Gainsborough Silk

Weaving Company. Established in 1903 by master weaver, Reginald Warner to

specialize in historical replicas they hold an

impressive place in the story of British textile production. Royal weavers for over 100

years they produce the most luminous woven fabrics imaginable.

Neil Thomas took over as director four and

a half years ago and brought in designer Russell Sage as an artistic consultant. Moving

away from historical reproductions, Sage fostered collaborations with contemporary

designers (they have, in fact, been weaving

contemporary designs to commission for years, but the work was veiled behind client

names). Paul Smith delved into their archives to produce a sumptuous furnishing damask

and more recently his signature 37

colour stripe – quite the most complex stripe Gainsborough has ever attempted.

Fortunately Thomas welcomes challenges from new designers and indeed anyone with a

bespoke project. He relishes the 'impossible'

and is eager to bridge the gulf between designer and industry.

The translation of any design into woven cloth is a process of collaboration and

The twist


Hans Fonk| O BJEKT©International

What do the Paris Opééra Garnier, the French Parliament, the palace of the Grand Duke of Luxembourg and the palace of the Sultan of Oman have in common? They all house cords, tassels and trimmings from Les Passementeries de l’Ile de France. The old village of Belloy-en-France, with its 1600 inhabitants, lies approximately 20 kilometres north of Paris. It can be found on maps dating from the end of the 8th century, during the reign of King Dagobert. Later, in the 16th century, King Franççois I granted the village the privilege to produce ‘passementerie’ for his castles. The production of tassels and trimmings took place in small workshops, each consisting of a long shed in which the cords could be twisted. At the start of the 20th century there were still 20 small businesses operating there, but they were to disappear, one after another, until Les Passementeries de l’Ile de France was the only one to remain. The company was bought in 1926 by the grandfather of the present director, Georges Doudoux, and remained in the family. The key activity is the manufacture of trimmings. It is a labour-intensive process, from the twisting of the cords to the weaving on the old jacquard looms – most of which is still done by hand. For an order of braid trim, the minimum is 10 metres. Such small quantities reflect artisanal production methods, and it is not surprising that today France, the birthplace of ‘passementerie’, has only three companies of significance in the field. It is not always easy to keep going when interior trends veer towards minimalism. One constant factor, although that too is relative, is the demand for these products in restoration projects, for castles, hotels and other large buildings. And there are still enough of those around, in the world and particularly in France. Les Passementeries de l’Ile de France has extensive archives containing beautiful trimmings. They are the silent witnesses of the creativity and skill which have for centuries been interwoven with this decorative art. ••• Raphaëëlle de Stanislas




SELVEDGE('selnid3) n. 1. finished differently 2. the non-fraying edge of a length of woven fabric. [: from SELF + EDGE]

INDULGEtextiles to buy, collect or simply admire 15 COVER STORYAdvent 24 shopping days to Christmas 71Selvedge dry goods Tempting new products and our best-selling favourites

INDUSTRY from craft to commerce 38 The silk route The Gainsborough Silk Weaving Company welcomes a challenge 62 Swans Island life Fog-washed, handwoven blankets 79 Design file A case study of May Morris's classic textiles

ANECDOTEtextiles that touch our lives 30 COVER STORYCloth of Gold The power and beauty of precious metals

36 The twistTraditional tassels and trimmings

96 Tiptoe Christmas stockings

CONCEPTtextiles in fine art 48 Long and drawn outIf patience is a virtue these are truly holy artworks

ATTIRE critical reporting of fashion trends 21 Fashion iconsMen and women of the cloth

54 Flashy dresses The rise of the red carpet runway

66 COVER STORY The history boys An era of peace, love and pattern

COHABIT stunning interiors beautifully photographed 58 Looking glassAfter years of dressing down shop windows are glamorous again

GLOBAL travel destinations and ethnographic textiles 44 Free reignTextile treasures of a teenage Tsar

INFORMthe latest news, reviews and exhibition listings

04 bias/contributors 05 correspondence 07 news Trends and

essential ideas 12 How to...

Cloth gift wrapping 77 Guiding hand

Bags of enthusiasm 86 international listings

Exhibitions, fairs, events 84 read

Tartan, The Golden Age of

Couture, Dictionary of

Children’s Clothes, Clothing

of the Renaissance World 88 view

Tracey Emin 20 years,

Maison Martin Margiela

“20”, Bourgeois Pride and

Princely Splendour,

Arbiters of Style 95coming next

The Frugal issue

Taking care of your textiles 93resources Information & research links 80subscription offer A set of V&A cards featuring

fabric designs for every new

subscriber and renewal plus

tickets to the Country Living

Christmas Fair and Leitner

Leinen aprons



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