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.
‘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.’