Sunday, May 22, 2005

Toile de Jouy

A fabric printed in toile de Jouy, namely an 18th century French scenic pattern usually printed on cotton, linen, or silk in one color on a light ground

Toile Gets a Makeover
The traditional pattern shakes its fussy image as designers give it a new look

Toile De Jouy, that pretty print strewn with idyllic scenes of the French countryside, may seem best suited for upholstering a sofa that's covered (permanently) in plastic. But designers are dusting off traditional patterns like toile and splashing them on wallpaper and trench coats.

For his spring 2005 collection for Burberry, designer Christopher Bailey drew inspiration from an English classic: blue-and-white Wedgwood ceramics. The French fabric company Pierre Frey recently introduced Hong Kong, a toile depicting its namesake city, including skyscrapers and traffic jams. And the Glasgow-based design firm Timorous Beasties' toile honors the company's hometown with a tableau of familiar local spots.

"I thought it would be great to do a toile that showed scenes of now—what people are doing in an urban environment, what they look like—but to do it as beautifully as possible," says Paul Simmons, 37, one of Timorous Beasties' designers. From afar, Glasgow Toile is a lovely wash of red on white. But step closer, and it's not so pretty. In one scene, a junkie uses drugs in a graveyard—"the moral tale being if you shoot up, you will literally end up in a graveyard," says Simmons.

Not all the new creations are as charged or provocative as those of Timorous Beasties (whose fabrics cost about $120 a meter from Designer Manuel Canovas rolled out wallpapers with traditional pastoral scenes in funky color combinations like mauve on mustard and rose on lime.

You never know, though: Timorous Beasties' toile may be cutting edge now, but it could become a classic like Wedgwood someday. Simmons reports that in November he was slated to go off to Buckingham Palace—at the invitation of the Queen.

From TIME Asia Magazine, issue dated December 13, 2004 / Vol. 164, No. 24


Burberry , Paul Smith

Christian Lacriox , Clements Ribero


Valentino Floral Print Pump , Gucci Ankle-Wrap Wedge