We recently came across a collection of Bianchini Férier designs in black, blue and autumnal watercolours. The designer's notes scrawled around the edges, a couple even had stamps charting their progress through different stages of approval, in the hopes that they might become one of the signature fabrics produced by Bianchini Férier. Not knowing much about the company, I began doing a little research, and started to realise what a huge part of fashion industry history these 12 watercolours represented.
For those of you, like me, who didn't know, the silk weaving house of Bianchini Férier was founded in Lyon on the 23rd July 1888 by François Atuyer, Charles Bianchini and François Férier. After a few decades of successful partnership, in 1912 the artist Raoul Dufy (1877-1935) was contracted by Bianchini to design textiles for the company, which turned into one of the best known collaborations within the design industry at the time.
It has been said that Dufy was poached from right under the nose of Paul Poiret, who he had been working with for just a year before being tracked down by Bianchini, however his designs were still used in Poiret's garments.
Over the course of his contract he produced over 4000 designs, and would see each one through from conception to completion. The firm continue to prosper after Dufy's contract came to an end in 1928 as planned,
and continued supplying fabrics to the great fashion houses of the time, a practice which continued and expanded in the sixties to the production of designs for designers such as Givenchy, Balenciaga, Chanel, Dior, Laroch, Nina Ricci and Yves Saint Laurent, to name a few.
Much like the prints used in the fashion industry today, the simplicity and pared down colour scheme of the watercolour designs ensures a seamless transition from design to fabric.
These 12 'working' watercolour sketches have an immediacy that gives them a fresh, timeless look, which along with the insistent French notes in the margins (“And they had better be consistently engraved!”) to remind us of their origins, makes them the perfect addition to the Guinevere walls.
Collection image courtesy of dufy-bianchini.com