French textile manufacturer
Founded: circa 1880 by Charles Bianchini and partners; changed name to Bianchini-Férier after partnership with Férier, around 1900. Company History: Signed Raoul Dufy, 1912; opened New York mill, 1921; teamed up with Vogue Patterns, 1949; merged with Tissage-Baumann, then acquired by Mayor-MDTA. Company Address: 4 rue Vaucanson, 69283 Lyon Cedex 01, France.
Crawford, M.D.C., The Ways of Fashion, New York, 1948.
Musée de L'Impression sur étoffes, Raoul Dufy [exhibition catalogue], Mulhouse, 1973.
Musée Historique des Tissus, Les folles années de la soie [exhibition catalogue], Lyon, 1975.
Arts Council of Great Britain, Raoul Dufy [exhibition catalogue],London, 1983.
Galeria Marcel Bernheim, Raoul Dufy et la mode: ancienne collection, Bianchini-Férier [exhibition catalogue], Paris, 1985.
Deslandres, Yvonne, and Dorothee Laianne, Paul Poiret: 1874-1944, London, 1987.
Mackrell, Alice, Paul Poiret, New York, 1990.
Schoesser, Mary, and Kathleen Dejardin, French Textiles from 1760 to the Present, London, 1991.
Dufy, Raoul, "Les tissues imprimés," in Amour de L'Art, No. 1, 1920. Vallotaire, Michel, "New Textiles from France," in Studio, December 1928.
"Bianchini-Férier ou la créative continue," in Vogue (Paris), November 1988.
Weisman, Katherine, "Lyon Regaining Its Lost Cachet (Lyon, France, Silk Fabric Industry)," in Women's Wear Daily, 12 July 1994.
D'Aulnay, Sophie, "SEHM—A World View of Diversity," in DNR, 22 January 1996.
Maycumber, S. Gray, "European Rabrics to Preview This Week," in DNR, 15 January 2001.
Gilbert, Daniela, "Preview: Staple Looks Rule Spring 2002," in Women's Wear Daily, 23 January 2001.
From its beginnings in the 1880s the House of Bianchini-Férier has been associated with the world's most luxurious silks. The Lyonnais firm first achieved widespread recognition for a collection of silk velvets and brocades shown at the Paris Exposition of 1889. A few years later Charles Bianchini and his partners opened a sales office in Paris. Offices in London, Geneva, Brussels, Montreal, Toronto, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Buenos Aires quickly followed.
Working in close association with the leading couturiers of the day, Bianchini-Férier created fabrics which are considered standards today, but for which the company held the original copyright. Among them are charmeuse georgette, and the semisheer crêpe Romaine. Undoubtedly one of the best known collaborations between an artist and a manufacturer was between Raoul Dufy and Bianchini-Férier. Dufy first designed textiles for Paul Poiret in 1911. Failing to imitate his bold hand wood-blocked patterns, Bianchini went to the source and in 1912 signed Dufy to an exclusive contract, then renewed it annually until the late 1920s. For Bianchini, Dufy created brilliant florals in the palette of the Fauve painters. He designed geometrics using blocks of opposing colors—the design created equally by the object and by the negative space enclosing it— and he continued to execute the large scale block-prints originally produced for Poiret.
Poiret continued to use Dufy's designs for Bianchini in his collections; his summer 1920 collection employed Dufy's fabrics exclusively and Dufy himself sketched part of the collection for the May issue of the Gazette du Bon Ton. Theirs was surely one of the most significant collaborations between artist, couturier, and manufacturer of the period. While many establishments geared to the luxury market were forced to close or reorganize during the Depression, Bianchini not only survived but continued to experiment with new fibers and weave structures. Consequently, when silk became unobtainable during World War II, Bianchini had the technology in place to increase its production of rayon. And because the firm had opened a mill in Port Jervis, New York, back in 1921 to replicate patterns and textiles originating from Lyons, they did not wholly lose their overseas market during the war.
Within the industry, Bianchini was known especially for silk velvets and silk and metal brocades for haute couture. After the war the firm increased its efforts to reach the discerning home sewer who could provide an expanded market for their collections of silk and rayon prints. A 1949 collaboration with Vogue Patterns paired a collection of garments designed especially for Bianchini with a group of specific hand-screened prints. The March Vogue claimed these private edition prints were available in no more than 20 dress lengths each, to be distributed to select stores around the country. The advertising copy read "For the Woman Who Wants to Be Exclusive— A Couture Plan for Your Personal Dressmaking." The patterns allowed women who could not attend fashion shows to dress in high style like their wealthier counterparts.
For more than 100 years Bianchini-Férier set the standard for fine fabrics, used the world over. After its centennial, however, the firm faced dwindling sales and competition in the late 1980s and 1990s from Italian textile firms, as well as not having the kinds of fabrics appropriate for the growing ready-to-wear sportswear markets. Bianchini and other Lyonnais fabric producers were forced to adapt; not only did they have to create a wider range of fabrics but had to work with designers in developing their collections. Gone were most of old guard designers who knew instinctively what they wanted; a newer, younger group of designers had come to the fore often without the intimate knowledge of textiles their predecessors possessed.
Bianchini reached the 21st century having weathered the difficult years and adapted to the new standards for textiles. In 2000 the firm was showing acetate and rayon fabric mixes, as well as updating its famous silk with iridescent denim-twill in 2001. hailed as the longest continuously-running mill in Europe, Bianchini is now renowed for much more than silk, though it has remained the silk manufacturer of choice, combining invention and artistry in equal measure.
updated by SydonieBenét