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Printed silk crepe and brocaded lamé evening coat
Textile by Raoul Dufy for Biancini-Férier
French, ca. 1925-26
The design for this sumptuous silk woven by Bianchini-Férier around 1925 derives from Dufy's woodcut for The Mouse in Apollinaire's Le Bestiaire ou Cortège d'Orphée, published in 1911 to great acclaim and for which a contemporary colored gouache survives. Dufy's powerfully graphic black-and-white engravings that accompanied Apollinaire's quatrains contain the strong lines, joyful expressiveness, and motifs that would appear, and reappear, in his textile designs. The silk literally conveys Dufy's guiding principle of couleur-lumière. Set off against a black ground, vivid shades of red, yellow, teal-blue, and green in the lush vegetal, fruit, and foliate motifs are both heightened and subtly transformed by the brocaded silvergilt lamé threads. In the pumpkins, red silk warps binding the lamé create an orange cast, while yellow silk warps intensify the brilliance of the golden-yellow wheat sheaves, and both effects appear in the red and yellow peaches. Contrasting with these primary colors are the black, gold, and black-and-gold grapes with curlicue gold stems.

Bianchini-Férier originally released Dufy's design as a large square shawl, from which the coat is constructed. The body and collar of the coat display minimal tailoring, with just two small triangular pieces to ensure a smooth fit over the shoulders. A rectangular panel cut from one of the shawl's deep borders creates the kimono-like sleeves. Stylized gold and gold-and-black clouds, formerly the center of the shawl, float over the coat's back, while a band of gold lamé trims the collar, fronts, sleeves, and hem. The chartreuse-green silk charmeuse lining injects a striking accent.

In the mid-1920s, unfitted wrap-front coats with a variety of collars and sleeves were ubiquitous, and lamé was widely popular for evening dresses, shawls, and coats, adding a sophisticated opulence to the straight garçonne silhouette. Editorials and advertisements in well-known fashion magazines reported on and illustrated numerous lamés manufactured by Bianchini-Férier and other Lyonnais silk weaving firms. A September 1924 Vogue article entitled "The Fabric Mode at Bianchini's" highlighted the house's "close cooperation with well-known artists of the day, especially with Raoul Dufy," and in February 1925, the magazine praised Bianchini's "lamés with large, sweeping designs" among the "richer fabrics for which this house is so famous."

An identical shawl is in the collection of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (M.2004. 25); another incomplete, identical shawl, illustrated in Dufy by Dora Perez-Tibi, 1997, fig. 131, is identified as Still Life with Fruit, with Bianchini-Férier's pattern number 27087.

For more information, see the Cora Ginsburg Modern 2017 catalogue.

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