‘Fersen’ has already seen fame in its appearance in the 2006 film ‘Marie Antoinette’ starring Kirsten Dunst and based on the Queens life leading up to the revolution. The film won an academy award for Milena Canonero’s costume design, adding to her many great works in films such as Wes Anderson’s ‘The Life Aquatic’ and ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’.
Edmond Petit’s lampas fabric ‘Fersen’, with the stripes, flowers, ribbons and bows is in the style of Louis XVI (Queen Marie Antoinette’s husband).
The detail in the pattern is quite remarkable and has me wondering how it can be produced with such delicate intricacy. As I gently pull away several weft threads, creating a little fringe at the end of the fabric, I am completely struck by how many thousands of fine strands lay within it.
The glory days of French Lampas go back to the time of Louis father, King Louis XV (1710- 1774). It is woven today in much the same way as it was with the invention of the jacquard loom back in 1801, only changed by some slight modernisation and electrification. It is created by adding extra ‘weft’ threads (the yarn that weaves through the fabrics from left to right, opposed to the vertical ‘warp’ threads) and is essentially one base fabric woven, then the extra weft threads picked up along the loom to come to the front and skip across the base fabric for as much as is needed to create the design. They are then, when not in use for the pattern, taken to the back, a stitch of the warp thread holding it before it loosely floats along the length of the back of the base fabric until it is once again needed for its contribution to the design. Each time that particular colour thread is needed, it is brought to the front.
I wish I could more adequately describe this process, to allow everyone reading to visualise how amazing the weaving of it is and how creating each part of this delicate design of tiny buds, roses, a little flower shaped like a violet, fine stems and leaves all woven in the most perfect shades of pink, gold, green and dark chocolate make it a work of art. Further to all this detail, trailing stems with the tiniest buds run up each side of the stripes.
The small but not tiny scale of the overall design takes this fabric from ‘cute’ to delightfully pretty and romantic. Marvelling at its divine combination of softly confident colours, I cannot imagine seeing another fabric so sweet, yet one I would never tire of. It looks and feels like a beautiful treasure …
It is only fit, for what is surely one of the prettiest fabrics, to be photographed in one of London’s most charming afternoon tea establishments!
Photographs taken at Sketch London