Bianchini Ferier was a silk weaving manufacturer based in Lyons. Founded in 1888 by Francois Atuyer, Charles Bianchini and Francois Ferier, it first produced fine silk damasks mainly for the apparel industry. They won a silver medal at the Paris Exposition Universelle of 1889 and from then on were very successful.
Atuyer died in 1912 and Bianchini, who was a great businessman, gave the artist Raoul Dufy- Paul Poiret's brilliant textile designer - a contract to design for the company. He produced around 4,000 designs for them until 1928 creating both furnishing fabrics using the technique of bloc printing on toile and fabrics for the fashion industry. Many artists such as Paul Iribe, Robert Bonfils and Henri Gillet collaborated with Dufy to produce wonderful designs inspired from nature, many floral, such as roses which are so much a symbol of the Art Deco period.
Although Dufy’s contract ended in 1928 the firm prospered and continued making furnishing fabrics and luxury silks for the great fashion houses - Worth, Madeleine Vionnet, Callot Soeurs, Jeannne Lanvin, Paquin and Patou. During the Depression Bianchini-Ferier produced for the Pret a Porter trade and also designed gentlemens’ ties. After the War they produced scarves for Hermes and, in the 60’s, for designers such as Cardin, Givenchy, Chanel, Dior, Nina Ricci, and Yves Saint-Laurent amongst others. In 1992 the business became part of Tissages Bauman which still runs it. The archive remained with the previous owner and was disposed of in 1991, 1999 and 2001.
The design process
Although, most of the designs from this archive are anonymous, the designs before 1950 are all numbered and therefore datable. These designs often come with “colour ways” and annotations with technical details by the work staff. For example a single repeat is marked out with a pencil outline which might suggest the design was being considered for printing. The process of creating the drawing can also be seen in the margins in pencil and also in the design itself which is not always completed or finished all over the paper. Some of the designs which were to be printed came with a printer’s fent. The fent was used by the block printer to test the blocks before printing on the cloth, to ensure there was no excess wear or damage to them.
The designs from this archive are so diverse, colourful and beautiful that they take textile illustration to the realm of great art.