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 suit is printed with the design ‘Exotic’ in three shades of mauve. As its name suggests, its motifs are based on lush flowers and vegetation, forming strident arcs of colour across both the jacket and skirt. In this design Walker has taken the traditional botanical subject matter of European textile design and created a wild and unsettling scene. The Penlee House Gallery and Museum in Penzance owns a pair of curtains of identical fabric; this heavy linen was very versatile, its weight able to give body to a three dimensional garment, and also provide the protection from light and cold air needed in a pair of curtains.