I spent Easter in Provence this year, in a 15th century town house in Bonnieux, as a guest of the wonderful Marston House folk. Jaunts around French markets and trips to churches were the order of the day, but we also visited the perfume museum in Grasse. I’m no expert but we enjoyed the spectrum of aromas from spicy and woody to fruity and floral – the variety of scents that nature offers is astounding. In this issue we have explored a similar feast of fibres. Bast Fibres, pg 15, combine nature’s bounty and human ingenuity and include smooth ratan, textured sisal and rough coir as well as crisp linen and cloud-soft kapok.
Nature provides the raw materials for many textiles and also abundant inspiration for their adornment. In Sewing seeds, pg 66, Sarah Jane Downing translates the language of flowers and explores their meaning and symbolism. This feature is illustrated with examples from the V&A collection which spans five hundred years of floral designs and show roses, carnations and tulips as recurring themes. The global popularity of florals can be seen in the textile collection of The Fragonard Provençal Costume and Jewelry Museum in Grasse, pg 85. Genevieve Wood shares her knowledge of the colourful Provençal dress, pg 30.
At this time of year our attention turns to emerging designers and graduating students: but this year we decided to acknowledge that most, if not all, new designers owe a debt of gratitude to those who came before. With that in mind we take a moment to review the careers of three female designers - Role Models, pg 50 - Zandra Rhodes, Caroline Charles and Barbara Hulanicki, who are the epitome of inspiration. These towering figures have influenced scores of students over their decades-long careers and continue to create and innovate.
We also hear from five graduating students who have been inspired by figures in the design world, Classic examples, pg 56. It is difficult to find practical ways to support new talent in these straightened times, but the ancient Livery Companies, pg 28 achieve just that – with their charitable work they support both students and educational institutions keeping their textile associations fresh. As a student I was the recipient of one of these awards and will be forever grateful for the support I received.
As the weather finally warms up it’s wonderful to head outdoors without piling on several woollen layers and an overcoat. But sunny days require effort of their own kind and now is definitely the time to consider joining, what milliner Eloise Moody calls the “braver people” and adding a hat to your wardrobe – make Ascot your excuse, Moody and Farrell, pg 34. If that’s too bold, look to the bright floral pattern of Portuguese fashion designer Teresa Martins, pg 40 instead.
Polly Leonard, Founder & Editor of Selvedge Magazine
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