Cora Ginsburg LLC

Modern Textiles

Météore printed silk
Cheney Silks
American, 1929
76 x 40 in. (193 x 101.6 cm)
“I have sought for daring, dynamic forms, violent and discordant yet richly blended contrasts,” said Henry Creange, art director for the venerable Connecticut-based Cheney Brothers textile firm, in 1929 of their latest line of printed silks. He dubbed the collection “Staccato,” a word he believed expressed the “brilliant and unexpected rhythm” of the series’ modern, artistic patterns. Evocatively titled designs such as Plein Air, Illusionisme, and Marrakesh demonstrate the range of themes in the collection: leisure activities, avant-garde art movements, exoticism, and other au courant topics. Cheney’s unmistakably Francophile marketing, including a hand-colored catalogue of luxe Staccato fashion illustrations made in France, capitalized on the stylish convergence of French Art Deco and American Streamline Moderne formal impulses.

Météore—a Staccato print simultaneously flamboyant and dainty—is an example of Creange’s penchant for patterns that kept pace with modern life. Printed on luminous satin, the composition features a sprinkling of delicate white stars shimmering against striations of rust, pumpkin, peach, and gold; the bold, ombré bands are punctuated by bright, shooting stars with wispy, arcing tails. Cheney’s catalogue features this particular satin made into a kneelength beach coat worn over a harmonizing, color-blocked bathing suit. Creange favored promoting ‘Staccato’ prints through sporty garments appropriate for seaside resorts—described as “colorful as a week-end at Biarritz” or perfect for the French Riviera, “where bathing suits and pajamas constitute the wardrobe for all daylight hours.” In this lustrous, coppery colorway, Météore seems the perfect enhancement for de rigueur sun-tanned skin.

Creange emphasized that Staccato prints were designed primarily with Southern resort wear in mind, but they were marketed as “still eminently suitable for the woman who winters in the North.” Cheney’s sales strategy further paired these washable silks with commercial patterns and targeted piece goods retailers. At the highest end, Staccato silks were sufficiently charming to attract the couturière Elsa Schiaparelli, who used these fabrics for eight variations on beach pajamas shown in a faux resort setting at Cheney’s September 1929 promotional debut.

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