Newsletter No. 5-08 (Aug. 2008)   Page 2 of 5 / Sidan 2 av 5. [back to page 1]
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Arcive/Arkiv 2008: [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]


This newsletter is written in order to spread experiences within the topic of historic textiles and reconstructions. Our ambition is to amuse you and stimulate interest in the 18th Century. Durán Textiles, who is mainly working with museum collections and Royal Castles, was founded in 2002 by CEO and production manager Laila Durán, with co-worker artist Torkel Henriksson who is doing the artworks and preparing the designs for production. Our production is done mostly in India supervised by Duran Textiles inspectors. 
- The articles are mainly written by Laila Durán but we also have help from colleagues and specialists from several museums and universities.  In the future this newsletter will be distributed four times a year and is free of charge. We hope you will enjoy our stories and offers and help us to spread the letter to friends and colleagues. Contact:

Detta nyhetsbrev skrivs för att sprida erfarenheter inom ämnet rekonstruktioner av historiska textiler och 1700-talet. Ambitionen är att roa och stimulera intresset. Durán Textiles har varit verksamt sedan 2002 och arbetar med projekt för Kungliga Slott och museisamlingar i hela Skandinavien. Laila Durán är VD och projektledare, Torkel Henriksson arbetar med originalen och alla förlagor för tryck och väv. På plats i Indien, där de flesta av tygerna produceras, finns Durán Textiles egna inspektörer.
- Artiklarna skrivs huvudsakligen av Laila Durán men vi får även hjälp av kollegor och specialister från olika muséer och universitet.  Nyhetsbrevet kommer i fortsättningen att komma ut fyra gånger per år och är helt kostnadsfritt. Vi hoppas ni ska uppskatta våra artiklar och erbjudanden och även sprida informationen vidare till Era vänner. Kontakt:



Silk - Luxury and Politics.
By Laila Durán.

Among all textiles fibres, silk reigns supreme. It has been coveted through centuries, ever since silkworms began to be cultivated in China nearly seven thousand years ago. Silk has built and crushed empires, and from the earliest times partaken an almost mythical quality. As the secrets of silk production spread beyond China, silk rapidly became a popular luxury fabric because of its texture and lustre.

Italy was the first European country to capture the silk market. By the 1200s, due to the sea trade with the east, the recruiting of craftsmen and development of new technology, the Italian silk had begun to circulate in Europe. A century later France followed the example of the wealthy states of Venice and Florence and developed a national silk industry in Lyon. In the 16th century Lyon became the capital of the European silk trade and by the middle of the 17th century over 14 000 looms were in use in Lyon and the silk industry was feeding a third of the city’s population.

In the 18th century silk was a symbol of status and power. No nobleman or woman could appear in court without the correct courtier’s dress of silk. It also played a political part when the Austrian empress Maria Theresa wished to secure the alliance with France by marrying her youngest daughter Archduchess Maria Antonia to the future king of France, Louise XVI. The empress spared no expense to make her daughter a visibly commendable Bourbon bride and spent an astounding four hundred thousand livres on her youngest daughter’s trousseau. (At a time when an entire working class family had a wardrobe of thirty livres). The thirteen-year-old future queen was a living mannequin, with a makeover to please and entertain the French court and keep Austria and France from further antagonism.

Silk was highly in demand. Nobility would spend fortunes decorating their houses and trying to keep up with the latest fashion from the court of Versailles. The stories of Marie Antoinette’s follies are many but she was not the first royal to demand splendid silks and excessive luxury in her chambers at the Palace of Versailles. Her grand father in law, King Louis XV had spent the riches of France not only on the Seven Years War but also on excessive decoration of his court. All to the infamous battle-cry of his mistress Madame de Pompadour: “Apres nous, le deluge” (“after us, the deluge”).

The milliner and dressmaker Rose Bertin is said to have been the cause of the fashion mania of the young Queen, Marie Antoinette. The couturier kept the best atelier in Paris with the latest patterns of silk and accessories. Always making sure the high borne ladies of the court had something to desire. Today she is celebrated for having brought French fashion and haute couture to the forefront of popular culture, but she is also accused of being a part of the fall of the French monarchy.

Silk in interiors has always been seen as the epitome of power. All over Europe silk was made more accessible due to the new techniques of the looms, and by the mid 18th century the English and French were rivals in design innovation. Now for the first time there is a clear distinction between furnishing and fashion silks. Some mills would specialise in designs for interiors. Rooms were hung with luxurious panels of silk. Beds, chairs and coaches were upholstered with sumptuous fabrics. Adding to the designs of silks from the European mills, was the import of painted and embroidered silks from China and Mughal India, with tambour-worked silk, reflecting western tastes. A variety of imported items were made specifically for European consumption.

Then, after the industrialization of the later 18th century, cottons began to emerge as the fabric of the people and silks also became widely more available. The greater sheen and the glowing colours are the very characteristics that set silk apart from other natural fibres, and the distinction is critical in social terms. Today silk is still luxury. Only now, it is not the privilege of the rich. The wonder of the silk, with its intense colours and wonderful feel, is that no matter your social status, age or race, you will feel wonderfully rich and pampered wearing it. Sharing a feeling people have experienced through out the ages.

Silk and empire. Brenda King
Silk. Mary Shoeser
Queen of Fashion. Caroline Weber



The silk moth, German botanical print.

Portrait of Maria Antonia send with her engagement to the French dauphin 1769.
Take part in the drawing of the book about her life and read more about the role silk payed during the 18th century.

A lavishly furnished state bedchamber at Nostell priory, England.

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