A few weeks ago, Patrick Frey, head designer at La Masion Pierre Frey, took a handful of designers, editors and industry friends on a private tour of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s textile exhibition—Interwoven Globe: The Worldwide Textile Trade, 1500–1800.
Many of Pierre Frey’s Braquenie textiles evolved from these historic patterns. "Like ballet dancers can create modern dances based on their classical training, these fabrics are the roots of today's patterns—every pattern and every style is coming from 17th and 18th century inspiration," explained Pierre Frey, director of international relations for the fabric house.
Braquenie’s Le Grand Genois panel (above) with an Indian Palampore textile c. 1765 (below).
Frey describes the Braquenie pattern as similar to the Palampore without a beginning, end or border, so there is no limit to the length of the fabric.
Braquenie’s Le Grand Genois Rayure 4 Chemins (above) with an Indian Palampore textile (below) created for the European market c. 1750.
Frey explained that Palampore panels were extremely popular during that time period for bed hangings and wall upholstery.
Recently, Braquenie took a popular element of a Palampore textile—the rock base—and made it into it’s own fabric, titled Broderie Le Rocher.
"You can really tell that those fabrics were not only really modern at that time but they are still really relevant today and work with today's décor. For decades it became less 'trendy' and more contemporary and I'd say for the past 80 years designers were using modern fabrics. But, over the last couple of years, we are seeing so many young designers use classical fabrics in contemporary homes and they work well with contemporary furniture and modern art," said Frey.
"I have classical fabrics myself at home, and they are still really relevant and really actual. When you mix them with contemporary pieces they work even better in today's world."
This was the first major exhibition to explore the international transmittal of design from the 16th to the early 19th century through the medium of textiles and it highlighted an important design story that hadn’t been told from a global perspective.
18th century chair seat cover for the European market
"The fabrics are really were preserved, it's quite spectacular to see 16th century and 17th century garments and dresses at that quality, it's really impressive," said Frey.
Chinese textile with crowned double-headed eagles for the Iberian market, second half of the 16th century
The exhibition features 134 works, about two-thirds drawn from the Metropolitan Museum’s own collection. The objects were augmented by important domestic and international loans in order to make worldwide visual connections, and they include numerous flat textiles—lengths of fabric, curtains, wall hangings, bedcovers—tapestries, costumes, church vestments, pieces of seating furniture, and paintings and drawings.
Spanning ten galleries, some organized by geography and others by theme, the show begins with the Portuguese maritime expansion and the new textile trade that Portugal developed with China and India. It also focuses on Spanish and South American textiles, the luxurious textiles that were prized by the Catholic Church, and the textile trade routes between Europe, Asia and Africa, and eventually North America.
Interwoven Globe is open through January 5 at The Tisch Galleries on the second floor of the museum.