A love story with silk
This autumn, follow the silk road and visit the Silk in Lyon festival to (re)discover this precious fabric and its fascinating history.
From silkworm rearing to weaving, design and printing, the use of silk thread requires meticulous care, dexterity and passion. The expertise involved is celebrated and showcased at the Silk in Lyon festival, which will be held at the Palais de la Bourse, from the 17th to the 20th of November 2022. You can look forward to demonstrations, hands-on workshops and conferences. It will also be a chance to meet silk artisans and designers, heirs of Lyon’s former silk-workers, known as the ‘Canuts’, and the long history of Lyon’s textiles industry.
“In the late fifteenth century, with four annual fairs, lasting 15 days each and exempt of duties, Lyon became the European banking capital. Italian silks were imported during these fairs, at great cost! In order to reduce expenditure, Louis XI and then Francis I proposed the creation of a silk-weaving industry in Lyon. This was accomplished in 1536 and, as of 1540, Lyon was granted a kingdom-wide monopoly on the importation of gold, silver and silk thread,” tells Philibert Varenne, Production Director at the Maison des Canuts. Today, the sounds of the weaving looms (onomatopoeically called ‘bistanclaques’ by locals) can no longer be heard on the hill of Croix-Rousse, but production in Lyon, which remained the European centre of silk until 1929, is still alive. In 2019, several major cities from around the world, including Kyoto, Hangzhou, Tbilisi and Como, came here to form an international network of cities that have a relationship with silk, known as ‘Silky Cities’. Lyon is also home to young creative designers and exceptional artisans, who work daily with this precious fabric. Working alongside them are a number of discreet, yet internationally-renowned traditional silk houses, such as Brochier Soieries, which has just transformed its shop at the Hôtel-Dieu into a silk museum.
Born in 1948, of a meeting between the Hermès family and the know-how of Les Ateliers AS, the carré (square silk scarf) is a product of the “Lyon-style” or “flat-frame” printing technique. In Pierre-Bénite, 150-metre-long heating tables, which are unique in the world, apply the 75,000 or so colours (no less!) that form the Hermès colour chart, with a precision of up to one hundredth of a millimetre. This is an amazing part of Lyon’s industrial heritage.HERMÈS
Carré 90 Grand Théâtre Nouveau, 410 €.
96 RUE DU PRÉSIDENT-ÉDOUARD-HERRIOT, LYON 2e
Once a manufacturer for France’s biggest fashion houses, the firm Descours et Genthon went out of business in the 1950s. That might have been the end of the story, were it not for Clara and Sabine, who revived this family business in 2019, after a period working at Lyon’s Village des Créateurs. In their wardrobe you will find resolutely contemporary items, like this stunning bomber jacket, which is perfect for the mid-season.Descours et Genthon
Bombers Forces, 690 €
Some may find silk scarves too formal for their taste. But this eye-catching version tied around the chest is anything but! Made with love, on the slopes of Croix-Rousse Hill, Marthe Duval’s creations are hand-painted and worked with high-end finishes. What’s more, “All of the silks are sourced from dormant stock,” emphasizes the creator.MARTHE DUVAL
Silk scarf, 110 €
Works of art
For Bertille Goux, the creator of Lindebringhs, silk is the ultimate material of elegance and an “ideal canvas for patterns.” She makes her scarves and kimonos using silk twill. Her sensuous, precious creations are all designed and made in the Lyon region.LINDEBRINGHS
Pyrus Kimono, 1160 €
Going full circle
Like a “final metamorphosis,” Anita Klaiber, creator of Things with Souls reconnects with the cycle of nature and that of the moth that is born of silkworms. Her “butterties”, which can be worn as accessories (like a brooch or hairband) or displayed, are transformed into the shape of a moth by upcycling old ties, which were once woven from silk thread... And so the circle is completed.THINGS WITH SOUL
Buttertie, starting at 30 €.
Paintings on silk
The famous Brochier Soieries has made artwork prints their hallmark. From Gaudi to Manet, Kandinsky and De Vinci, you will be spoilt for choice when browsing their range of scarves, square scarves, ties and bowties.BROCHIER SOIERIES
Tie, 59 €.
As a silk artist, Sophie Guyot explores her favourite material from end to end, working with dyeing, folding and printing techniques. Made by hand in her studio on the slopes of Croix-Rousse hill, her works are displayed in exhibitions, like this magnificent pleated dress made with silk, but are also available in more modest formats as elegant additions to your wardrobes.SOPHIE GUYOT
Prices on request
A soft touch
With Géraldine Matthey, creator of Emotis, silk becomes a way of creating well-being. Her concept involves micro-embedding Bach flowers in silk, in order to soothe the body and mind in contact with the fabric. As a scarf, stole or even cushion, treat yourself to a touch of gentleness!ÉMOTIS
Geisha Celadon silk cushion, €99
A celebration of silk
The festival Silk in Lyon, formerly known as ‘Le Marché des Soies’, is returning to the Palais de la Bourse, from the 17th to the 20th of November 2022. It is an opportunity to discover silk professions, learn about how it is transformed through themed workshops, take part in meetings, watch demonstrations, and shop for accessories or fabrics made by famous houses.