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The silk

Bringing silk into our productions was a special emotion. All modesty kept, it embodies and symbolizes the founding myth of our brand so well. Resilience and metamorphosis are intimately linked to this fabric born from a process, of which we cannot say whether it is natural, or alchemical and miraculous... a bit of all of that at the same time. In any case ours will obviously be Reach certified .

Try to imagine for a brief moment that the silk comes from the slime of the cocoon secreted by a friendly caterpillar capable of producing a continuous thread of incredible strength despite its fineness, or thanks to it, as the silk pulls so much its strength of all paradoxes, including the name of our caterpillar called Bombyx! Realize, it has a name that sounds like a cluster bomb... and yet, only complexity, slowness and patience are its reason for being.

“The life of Bombyx silkworm” could be the title of the romantic epic of the caterpillar whose destiny is to adorn women and men with the gifts that nature gave it to create silk, instead of becoming a butterfly.

“I have to support two or three caterpillars if I want to know butterflies. It seems to be so beautiful. Otherwise who will visit me? You will be far away. »

This is how La Fleur, speaking to the Little Prince, envisaged the fate of the caterpillars which were undoubtedly Bombyx! But I digress, let’s get back to the silk story.

Legend has it that a long, long time ago, almost 3000 BC, a Chinese princess found in her cup of tea a bombyx cocoon that had fallen from the mulberry tree under which she was lounging. While trying to remove the cocoon from the princely tea, a thread unraveled while being extracted from its appropriate hot bath. So ! Myth and realities of the manufacturing process merge and nothing has changed for more than 5000 years.

The mulberry is the tree whose leaves are the exclusive and essential food of our bombyx. These silkworms are raised in heated rooms. We dissolve the sticky gum (sericin, are you following?) in a basin of hot water then we agitate the cocoons using a small broom (made of heather, this precision seems important) until a long thread continuous is extracted from it.

Several threads are brought together, cooled and amalgamated to become “raw silk”, an incredibly strong material which can be spun and woven to become our majestic fabric.

Nylon, a clever and artificial polyamide, born in the 1930s in the labs of the all-powerful Dupont de Nemours group (American, as its name does not indicate), believed to win the game of mass productivism over our little worm. silk. There is no question of denying progress when it has a useful and controllable effect, but nylon will not be enough to relegate millennia of fertile sophistication to the history museum. The silk did more than resist, it cultivated its trace.

Since our Chinese princess's cup of tea, silk has experienced incredible fortunes and breathtaking adventures. Very quickly aware of the vein thus discovered, the Chinese jealously kept it secret for centuries. We even learned that anyone who stole silkworms was sentenced to death. We did not joke with the secrets of the sanctuary which guaranteed power and wealth. But the call of the open sea and of all-powerful commerce was irresistible. The “Silk Road” was opened by China in the first centuries of the Christian era, an immense caravan linking the Far East to the West in the process of being formed, bringing rare products and manufacturing secrets. It's obviously difficult to keep such secrets. Adventurers of all kinds, diplomats, spies, missionaries, strived to unravel the mystery of silk. It is even said that monks were sent by one of the first Christian emperors of Rome to steal the secret of the Chinese, showing that heaven may well allow small arrangements with the principles of the faith, when it comes to power issues here down. In short, in addition to the Chinese, silk became the business of Indians, Japanese and Europeans who began to breed silkworms and exploit the juicy metamorphosis.

In the 19th century, we witnessed a fertile rapprochement between France and Japan in the production of silk. The great Lyon families - the “Soyeux” - established the industrial manufacture of silk in privileged connection with Japan, producer of the precious cocoons. Strategists in business mergers, educated at the best business schools, like Astrid or our Agathe, would analyze it today as a Joint Venture of indefinite duration, which prevents neither creativity nor poetry. At this moment, I have a moving thought for Kenzo, a genius jack of all trades, a supporter of luxury at low prices, who died today of the villain virus. I also think of Issey Miyake, another sensitive Japanese, who brilliantly uses silk crepe in his creations. With its very tight weave, this material allows wavy or subtly embossed effects.

But the silkworm is also fragile, subject to its own villainous virus, pebrine. This is how Lyon la Soyeuse could have experienced bankruptcy in the 19th century, after the epidemic which killed its silkworms en masse, but it was saved by the Emperor of Japan who sent healthy and life-saving cocoons to France. . Seized by this unfortunate twist of fate, Louis Pasteur used his immense knowledge to find the cure for silkworm disease and his discovery in return benefited Japanese breeding.

Much better than me, Alessandro Baricco told us about this episode and the prosperity of silk, in his marvelous novel - Silk - a true allegory of life, refined and taut like a silk thread, crossed by the blows of fate, the distant adventure, mad love, the entrepreneurial spirit, too, of its hero... improbable operator of silkworms in a small village in Vivarais in the 19th century. Struck precisely by the fatal epidemic of his breeding, he had the crazy plan of going himself to trade for new silkworms in the land of the rising sun. “And where exactly is this Japan?” That way, always straight ahead, until the end of the world” replied the hero to the village mayor. Entrepreneurs all have a touch of madness.

After so many wars in the 20th century, economic debacles and exhausting reconstructions, silkworm cultivation no longer interested the West. China has regained first place in the industrial production of the precious fabric. Let us look at the facts with discernment and objectivity; this rank, after all, is not usurped. It's like a loop that comes full circle after millennia of avatars.

The author of Silk , the same Alessandro Baricco, in another essay, keenly observed:

“Experience modernity and resist it. Build it and not just consume it.”

As for us, you can already find in our wardrobe our silk pieces such as Victor, Brooke, Solal, Oprah or even Mimsy, to adorn yourself with this unparalleled elegance and delicacy which are specific to this material exceptional.

Take care of yourself, always.