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Flea market economy


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

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co n c ep t

Mann routinely turned down opportunities to design curtains and interior fabrics

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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

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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

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“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.”

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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

made them

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


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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 .

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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

04 bias/contributors 05 correspondence 07 news 13 sustain 17 how to... make café curtains 71 design file 73 readers’ offers 75 preview Bending the line 86 international listings Exhibitions, fairs, events

84 read Jennifer Angus; Terrible beauty, Embroidered in White 88 view Constructed Color, Russian Folk, Alice Kettle, Navajo Weaving 92 resources 80 subscription offers Volga Linen, Fifi by Fiona Howard, Art in Action

81SUBSCRIBE TO SELVEDGE 83 Selvedge event Join us in Bath’s wonderful fashion museum for a regency study session and lots more 82Back issue SALE Up to 50% off back issues 95 coming next The Pioneer Issue: Textiles that blaze a trail

SELVEDGE('selnid 3) n. 1. finished differently 2. the nonfraying edge of a length of woven fabric. [: from SELF + EDGE]

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