Neisha Crosland with Le Vrai Crêpe Georgette, Raoul Dufy for Bianchini Férier, before 1928. Photograph by Peter Guenzel

I bought it at Christie’s

Textile designer Neisha Crosland explains why she was drawn to a Raoul Dufy advertisement for a Bianchini Férier fabric

‘This is not a print, but an original, hand-painted artwork in gouache and ink. It is by Raoul Dufy, who worked for the Bianchini Férier silk-weaving house between 1912 and 1928. In the 16 years he was with the firm, he created about 4,000 fabric designs.

Le Crêpe Georgette, Raoul Dufy. Pencil and body colour on paper, 32 x 44 cm, exhibition  no 1206. Sold for £705 on 15 January 2003 at Christie’s in London, South Kensington

Le Crêpe Georgette, Raoul Dufy. Pencil and body colour on paper, 32 x 44 cm, exhibition no 1206. Sold for £705 on 15 January 2003 at Christie’s in London, South Kensington

‘As a piece of graphic art, this advertisement is full of character and joie de vivre. All Dufy’s designs and paintings have that, too — though I prefer his textiles to his paintings. The use of black and white is really clever: utterly simple and economical. Dufy knew that you have to make an impact with as few colours as possible, and the negative spaces here are as important as the text. I think the raspy quality of the background is Dufy’s attempt to capture the texture of crêpe georgette, a Bianchini Férier invention. It’s a silk, but it has a dry, sandy look to it — not shiny at all.

‘I remember going into the saleroom and seeing that everyone there was from the world of fashion and textiles’

‘The first time I went to an auction, I accidentally bought the wrong lot. But I knew of Bianchini Férier long before I found this piece, because the firm was still around when I started attending trade fairs. Back then I subscribed to all the Christie’s catalogues that dealt with textiles, because they were such a fantastic source of inspiration.

‘On the day, I remember going into the saleroom and seeing that everyone there was from the world of fashion and textiles. The funny thing was that, a year later, lots of them came out with Dufy-esque designs: that sale seemed to have set a trend.

‘There were other pieces I wanted, but I had to let them get away because I couldn’t compete. But I didn’t have to fight for this. It now lives in a loo — a tiny but beautiful loo with some handwoven Moroccan towels and one of my own silk wallpaper designs, Clematis. And then there is this on the wall. I am thrilled to have it.’