The Armistice Tea Dance

At the risk of sounding repetitious, we’re re-posting this to boost the signal. This event offers a unique opportunity to see an era rarely brought to life outside of battle reenactments. If you’re in the Southern California area on February 1, why not give this a try. 🙂


Looking for an historical event to start off the New Year? Well, if you’re going to be in Southern California, we have just the thing- A tea dance to commemorate the end of the First World War! The dance will be held on February 1, 2020 from 1:30 to 5:30 at the War Memorial Building in South Pasadena. The War Memorial Building was built in 1923 and dedicated by Marshal Foch of France and it’s the perfect venue for this sort of event. There will be live music with a caller to help everyone through the dances. This definitely promises to be a lot of fun and it’s an era that we haven’t done much with so far…but that will change. 🙂  For more details, please click HERE.

Vienna Waits For Us…(With Apologies To Billy Joel)

It’s now official, we’re off to Vienna in October! Yes, it’s a long time off but for us, it’s a journey off to a destination that we’ve only ready about and we’re very excited, especially since it was home to some of most amazing artists during the late Nineteenth Century and early Twentieth Centuries such as Gustave Klimt and Egon Schiele. Also, there was Vienna Succession and Wiener Werkstätte movements. All in all, this promises to be a fascinating trip and will no doubt provide further inspiration in our design work. 🙂

Testing…Testing…Testing

The majority of fabrics that we use are of natural fibers: cotton, silk, linen, and wool and sometimes we do burn testing to check particular fabrics, especially ones that we’ve obtained from new sources. Here’s the aftermath of one such successful test on an exceptionally interesting silk that we found in Paris:

And here’s a close-up of the fabric…

We’ll be making something interesting from this fabric so stay tuned… 🙂

Paul Poiret, Atelier Martine & Textiles

One of the most interesting aspects of Paul Poiret was that his design work was not limited solely to fashion but rather he expended into related areas such as fragrances, interior design, home furnishings, and textiles and as such such, he could be considered to be one the first “total lifestyle” designers. Of his various ventures was Martine which was Poiret’s home furnishings business. Named for his daughter Martine, Martine consisted of Atelier Martine, L’École Martine, and Maison Martine and opened on April 1, 1911. Inspired by the Wiener Werkstätte, Poiret created Martine as both a means of educating young working class girls in the decorative arts through L’École Martine and functioning as a design house through Atelier Martine.  Maison Martine served as the retail outlet for the venture, later adding on an interior design service. As part of this initiative, Atelier Martine designed textiles to be used for both home furnishings and clothing.

Collage of three photos showing three textile mills

One particular textile collection was made under licence in 1914 by the Duplan Silk Company of Hazleton, Pennsylvania and was intended as the fashion fabrics for several licensed dress designs. Interestingly enough, Duplan was originally established in 1897 by Jean Duplan, a French textile manufacturer as a means of avoiding the high import duty imposed on luxury fabrics by the Tariff Act of 1897. Pictured below are four of the original eight designs (Bishop, Bouquet, Lizeron, and Pekin):

Poiret/Martine, “Bishop” Silk Textile; National Museum of American History (TE.T01219)

Poiret/Martine, “Bouquet” Silk Textile; National Museum of American History (TE.T01218)

Poiret/Martine, “Pekin” Silk Textile; National Museum of American History (TE.T01221)

Poiret/Martine, “Pekin” Silk Textile; National Museum of American History (TE.T01220)

Poiret/Martine, “Bishop” Silk Textile; National Museum of American History (TE.T01222)

Poiret/Martine, “Lizeron” Silk Textile; National Museum of American History (TE.T01223)

Except for the Lizeron design, the above designs were cylinder printed on silk. In the case of the Lizeron, it was block printed and according to Duplan’s promotional literature, is was:

…the first hand block design ever printed by hand in the United States, on a heavy quality of silks. The yardage possible to produce per day, printed by hand by one man, in a design of the character, is only about 1/20th of what a silk printing machine can produce in the same length of time.

The Atelier Martine’s designs were heavily influenced not only by the Wiener Werkstätte, but also the Aesthetic/Arts and Crafts Movements with their emphasis on simple, bold designs that utilized bright colors. Martine was not only a business enterprise but also a repudiation of the prevailing design aesthetics of the Nineteenth Century, an element present in all of Poiret’s work. Although the Martine did not last long (Poiret sold the business in 1925), its legacy is a fascinating one.