Label ‘Crysède Ltd Silk Designers St Ives Cornwall’
Acquired from the late costume designer Marit Allen
The Crysède textile company, founded by Alec Walker in 1920, produced block-printed fabrics from its headquarters in Cornwall, first in Newlyn then, from 1925, at St. Ives. The John Bright Collection owns a number of garments made up in these fabrics.
Walker trained in all aspects of silk production at his family’s business in Yorkshire, inheriting his own silk mill at an early age. His strong interest in the arts brought him into contact with the artists’ colony at Newlyn and the Vorticists in London, encouraging him to combine his own creative talent with his knowledge of textile technology to establish the Crysède company. Wanting to ‘carry modern feeling, as expressed in modern design, into the fabrics themselves’ as he put it in an interview for the St. Ives Times, he visited Paris for inspiration in 1923, where the artist and textile designer Raoul Dufy suggested he use his own landscape paintings as the basis for his designs. The printed fabrics were available to purchase by the yard or as garments made up on site either in Crysède’s own shops (three of which were designed in a sleek modernist style by the young architect Wells Coates) or by mail order. In common with the Footprints and Cresta textile printing companies also represented on this website, great importance was placed on the training and well-being of the staff.
This jacket, possibly once part of a suit, is made of linen printed with an unidentified design in a blue and fawn colourway. Unlike many Crysède designs, based on Alec Walker’s local paintings, this example includes no discernible landscape motifs, limiting itself to very stylised flowers and foliage. In common with the collection’s other linen garments, the collar and cuffs are of plain linen, the collar with parallel rows of stitching (see Related Items).
Marit Allen, from whom the jacket was acquired, became a successful costume designer of films such as Brokeback Mountain and Mrs Doubtfire after a career as one of the most influential fashion journalists of the 1960s. From 1961 she worked for Queen magazine, moving to Vogue as a fashion editor in 1964. In her Young Ideas pages for the same magazine she championed some of the young designers, such as Marion Foale, Sally Tuffin and John Bates, who were at the centre of ‘Swinging London’s’ fashion industry at a time when its impact was being felt internationally.