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Selvedge Magazine | Issue 119

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All eyes will turn to Paris this summer with the 2024 Summer Olympics. At Selvedge, we too have been swept along by the excitement that has brought our attention to savoir-faire, the French concept of expertise in textiles.

We venture north to Méru and discover the Musée de la Nacre (Mother of Pearl) housed in an impressive nineteenth-century former button factory. Here we learn that by 1900 shells were of greater value than pearls - and world markets were using the shells for cutlery handles, inlay work and millions of beautiful buttons, some of which made their way onto the First Nation blankets and the working dress of the Pearlies in the East End of London.

Continuing our endeavour, we root around Catherine Legrand's Parisian Pied-à-terre and find it packed with textile treasures from around the world collected during the lifetime of a true adventurer. Traditional savoir-faire, a treasure trove of textile expertise, is diligently kept alive by the petites mains; such as the pleater Karen Grigorian, who inherited skills from the 19th-century modiste and draws inspiration from 20th-century Autochromes from the Salon du Gout Francais – Nadia Albertini takes us behind the scenes at his atelier.

Looking to the future once again French savoir-faire is leading the fashion world with new legislation Loi AGEL (Loi Anti-gaspillage pour une encomie curculaire) requiring every product imported into France to be accompanied by a passport which provides compulsory sustainability and circularity information for the item - bravo!

Overall, I hope we have captured a certain je ne sais quoi for you to enjoy. If we have whet your appetite for all things french sign up for the 2026 Selvedge Textile Tour of France.

Polly Leonard, Founder


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