Les Beaux Arts du Fil

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The short history of the embroidery

A little history

The embroidery

It is doubtless necessary to go back up (raise) to the prehistory to meet the first embroidery. Certainly, they had nothing common with those current, but already in this time, they represented a personal wealth, an outside sign of the social status of the one who carried(wore) her(it) or of the event for which we adorned ourselves. So, the leader, the wizard or some other important member(limb) of the tribe was recognizable in the distinguishing features which it concerned its clothes. Pearls of ivory, fragments of bones, hair, colored or cleared leathers, rooms(parts,plays) of fur, the raw material was at hand and plentiful, the wealth of a model depending especially on the creativity of his(her) performer. We cannot however speak already about embroiderer, even if it is likely that a person particularly endowed for this activity is appointed to the realization of the most delicate motives.

By its age (seniority), the embroidery is one of doubtless first plastic arts. She (it) will take her(its) real development in the Antiquity (Antique). The wealth of the motives and the materials will evolve during the millenniums. Two thousand years before J.C., the discovery of metals such as the copper, the bronze, the gold and the silver allowed to diversify techniques. The exceptional work of the artists of this time (period), who succeeded in executing motives for a big sharpness (delicacy) as in making simple pearls or glitter, extended until the creation of the thread of metal. This thread if fine allowed the realization of real laces on which, from the 5th century BC, the embroiderer (the term already exists certainly, because the Bible, in the chapter 27 of the Book of the Exodus evokes a curtain of twenty cubits artistically embroidered(exaggerated) linen sly) will set precious precious and semi stones. During these centuries, textiles(textile industries) will play an essential role. They will allow the embroiderer to realize models of big dimensions.

All these successive discoveries allowed the embroidery to embellish and to grow rich. However, it will be necessary to wait for the XVth and XVIIth centuries to know the peak of the embroidery because they are indeed the centuries of the magnificences.
The embroidery is a luxury that only a class of privileged persons can offer itself: the rich members of the royal family, the high dignitaries, the upper middle class avid to post (show) a certain size(greatness), without forgetting the municipalities which received their distinguished guests with magnificence and the user big Church which took advantage of sometimes spectacular gifts (donations) offered in worship.
Everything lends itself to the embroidery, the clothes so feminine as male, the soft furnishings, and also the furniture, the slightest trinket, the books (pounds), the livery of the domestics, the harness of horses, coaches … Nothing is forgotten. The embroidery is of an extreme sharpness (delicacy), of silk, gold or money (silver), in the young-point, in paint(painting) in the needle or couchure. These noble materials and these delicate techniques make that the number of hours necessary for the realization of the models and their prices (prizes) are considerable.

The demand (request) is so important as numerous studios (workshops) are going to build up themselves. Colbert, promoter (developer) of the heavy industries, opens the big factories, and at the same time prohibits the textile products manufactured abroad, as the laces, the embroidery and the paintings (clothes) painted by India about which we shall speak in another chapter. In 1667, the royal Factory of the furniture of the crown opens its doors to Tapestries under the authority of Him (It) Brown, followed by the foundation of the embroidery workshop of the convent Saint Joseph in Paris which contributed later to the decoration of the Palace of Versailles, then to that of the castles of Noisy-le-Roi and Saint-Cyr (French military academy) (created by Madam de Maintenon). These studios (workshops) are not the only ones to embroider (exaggerate). Effectively, numerous convents where the lace and the embroidery are a part for a long time of the monastic life, enjoy an equal reputation even superior to the most famous studios (workshops), such that of Ursulines of Amiens.

This craze for the embroidery goes on up to half of the XVIIIth century. From then on, the tastes change. Embroidered (exaggerated) fabrics (tissues) arrive from East and from Far East at very low prices (prizes). The lower middle class can now offer itself this luxury about which she dreamed for so many years. But with this new explosion in the world of the embroidery come to an end the centuries of the magnificences.

“Lunéville” embroidery

Lorraine is for a very long time the Mecca of embroidery. For the XVth century are elaborated there motives for colors, for gold and for money (silver), realized in the needle. The white embroidery - executed in the course of white linen on net or on muslin - appears to the XVIIIth century and develops in all the region. King Stanislas Ier, installed(settled) to Lunéville where he holds a glittering court (yard), facilitates his development.
The French Revolution pulls (entails) all the country in a long crisis which will come to an end thanks to empress Joséphine who boosts (sends a reminder) the fashion of the white embroidery. In 1805, we count in Nancy between 4 000 and 5 000 workers. In 1807, several studios (workshops) of young workers open their doors. Some of these children, girls and boys, are only 7 years old. In 1811, the young lady Cazottes embroiders (exaggerates) the veil of the cradle of King of Rome.

The point of Lunéville, which for the XIXth century owes its name to the city, is above all a bridge (deck) of necklace executed on some tulle. We discover it the possibility of using a hook to realize the point on a support tightened (stretched out) on a job (business).
Thanks to this technique, the speed of execution accelerates, the work is more precise, the motives can be more delicate and the much smaller point. The fact of tightening (stretching out) the fabric (tissue) on a job (business) gives to the work a very beautiful finity: the fabric (tissue) does not frown any more around the embroidered (exaggerated) parts (parties) and it is not any more deformed by the manipulations. Numerous east cities embroider (exaggerate) in the hook or in the needle on tulle or on evening muslin but also on very fine cotton or linen paintings (clothes) some the batiste, the percale or, less known nowadays, the jaconas (intermediate cotton between the muslin and the percale). The embroidery white with luxury of Lorraine is so renowned as numerous houses have a subsidiary in Paris and to London and New York.

If the technique of the embroidery evolved, it's the same for the very embroidery. Blanche yesterday, her makes now black or colored. However, the fame of Lunéville will come only in 1865 when Mister Ferry-Bonnechaux discovers the technique allowing to put pearls and glitter by means of the hook. The success is immediate. In 1875, it is the fashion of the black jet; in 1889, we adorn her (it) with all the colors. In 1891, the lighter and more brilliant glitter is, too, fashionably. It is a real surge (flight) of the embroidery. Every year the fashion has its requirements, also the embroiderers have to innovate, invent and propose colors and always new motives.

The Great War will put a brake in this business prospering until 1918 when roaring twenties shorten dresses and cover them with pearls. Until 1928 the embroiderers do not stop working at satisfying fashionably, in the city in studios(workshops), but also in the campaign (countryside) where the workers work at home. The first training school is born in 1924.

Today, the embroidery Lunéville, or in the needle, serves essentially the fashion design, the luxury ready-to-wear clothing, the music hall and more rarely the furnishing. The big houses of embroidery are in Paris, we do not count it more than someone in Lorraine.

The “Haute Couture”

The fashion design was unmistakably born in France. Moreover, the French term of fashion design is used all over the world. If France exercises the monopoly of the fashion in Europe today, nevertheless until XIXth century there are no creators following the example of the fashion designers there. The fashion is dictated by the aristocratic and bourgeois clientele. It is the lounges (shows) which set the tone.
It is necessary to wait in 1857 for the arrival of certain Charles-Frederick Worth who opens in n°7 of the street of the Peace a shop where he creates his models. In two years, he becomes the official fashion designer (dressmaker) of empress Eugénie. He (it) will contribute to the revival of the silk trade of Lyon. For the first time, a fashion designer (dressmaker) dictates the fashion and the street of the Peace becomes the most elegant street of Paris.

In 1888 is create the Employers' federation of the French fashion design. She (it) defines the regulation (payment) that has to apply every fashion designer (dressmaker) wanting hearth recognized as "fashion designer". For example, the number of annual parades, models, models for every collection, etc. The ready-to-wear clothing will be born in the 30s at instigation of some fashion houses, but c phenomenon will really take its flight in 1960.

In 1970 appear the first stylists and, at the same time, it is the definitive break between the ready-to-wear clothing and the fashion design. Begin a new era in the relations between the fashion design and the styling of mode (fashion).

The Provençal embroidery

Marseille is from time immemorial a door opened on the world. The crusaders bring back to(report) it the silk trades of East, the cotton, the products necessary for the dyes and the paintings(clothes) painted by India and by the East. These very appreciated Indians are prohibited the XVIIIth century by Colbert. Their exorbitant price in smuggling(contraband) urges then the women to imitate them. From there are born paintings(clothes) embroidered(exaggerated) in fine woolen thread in the point of Beauvais. This point is nothing else than one very petit point of necklace which underlines the lines(features) and fills(performs) the motives. If the used point is unique(only), colors are very varied. This necklace comes true by means of a hook. This prodigious work is however less appreciated than the painted paintings(clothes).

The “Boutis”

The dive, the precursor of the boutis, is used (employed) from the XIVth century on Italy then on Provence. The technique consists in tightening (stretching out) on a job (business) a painting (cloth) of not enough value or patched materials which are of use as bottom to the work. A coat (layer) of cotton absorbent cotton is above put and the whole covered with a beautiful material. The drawing, if it is established (constituted) by straight (right) lines, is realized by means of a thread coated with a blue powder tightened (stretched out) over the fabric (tissue) and what we make vibrate. For the motives or the plans in curve, we sand (pounce) the fabric (tissue) before going (taking) up him (it) on the job (business). Three coats (layers) are gathered (combined) by points before. The boutis, the speciality of Marseille and western Provence, is a dive whose technique consists in gathering (combining) both fabrics (tissues) by back stitches then in introducing cotton drills (locks) behind the work by means of a needle. This technique allows to realize motives for an extreme sharpness (delicacy). Some of these boutis were rebrodés with the “Point of Beauvais”.

Haute Couture embroidery

Autumn leaf embroidered

Yesterday, we recognized an embroidery of Venice in are characteristic following the example of Lunéville, of white embroidery and all the embroidery defined by a very particular technique. This one could so promote a city, a region and even a whole country the name of which it carried(wore) as a trademark. We looked for above all the perfection of the point and the more and more delicate motives.

Nowadays, if basic techniques did not change, the new materials (subjects), the modern products brought to the embroidery certain revival; but especially, they changed his (her,its) image. Today, an embroiderer is a creator. He (it) uses the various techniques and the points as a painter of colors to look of the relief to the model which he (it) realizes. We sometimes recognize the embroiderer by its embroidery as the painter in its paintings (boards).

The embrodery frame

The embrodery frame, such as we know him (it) today, exists since the Middle Ages. Paintings (boards) and tapestries represent them. We already used frames (executives) intended to tighten (to stretch out) skins to be embroidered (exaggerated) as soon as homes began to dress. We find the same frames (executives) all over the world. We know for a long time that it is necessary to tighten (to stretch out) the fabric (tissue) before embroidering (exaggerating) him (it) not to deform him (it) during the work.


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