“Nowhere else but in fabrics do we have the pleasure of witnessing the optical phenomena of lines and colors. It is here that we can enjoy the grace of a beautiful unfolding line, like a delightful melody.” Raoul Dufy
Charles Bianchini, a dynamic businessman from Lyon and a partner in the leading French silk firm Atuyer, Bianchini et Férier — another firm that supplied Poiret — recognized that here was a new style his own firm should adopt if it wanted to keep up with the most advanced developments in haute-couture. The association of Dufy and Bianchini-Férier between about 1911 and 1928 made Dufy one of the twentieth century’s most influential textile designers.
In March 1912, Dufy signed a contract with the company, and this agreement offered him opportunities which allowed him to continue his experiments in fabrics. Dufy was the first and only Parisian artist who was offered a contract by the firm, and the association continued until 1928, when Dufy chose not to renew his contract and returned to his painting.
Collaboration with Bianchini-Férier
Bianchini-Férier was a company specializing in the design, manufacture, and distribution of high quality fabrics for women’s dresses and furnishings. Established by Pierre-François Atuyer, Charles Bianchini, and François Férier, the factory moved from the Place Tolozan to the Rue Vaucanson in 1900.
The founders were awarded many prizes for the quality and originality of their work (such as the Grand Prix de l’Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1900). In 1913, with the death of Atuyer, the company assumed the name of Bianchini-Férier.
The silk manufacturers had offices in Paris, and Dufy was free to choose the style and quantity of designs he submitted. Each week he went to the firm’s offices on Avenue Opera, where Charles Bianchini made his selection of designs based on their commercial feasibility. The designs he chose were initialed and numbered, ready to be sent to the factory in Tournon, fifty miles south of Lyon, for production.
The projects were preceded by sketches. Some of these projects required several studies for the individual motifs or for the ensemble of the composition. The blocks were carved by the company Dournel. Since Dufy was freed from the technical concerns of producing his fabrics, he was able to devote himself to his true love—the study of color. A painter first and foremost, he carried out all of his experiments in fabric design with the same sensitivity as to his paintings.
In 1928, Dufy ended his association with Bianchini-Férier to return full time to painting. His experience, and the knowledge he gained through the nearly twenty-year-long association with textile design, had a lasting influence on his later paintings and murals. The opportunity was important in helping to clarify his explorations in color and line, and allowed him to freely and fully investigate the endless possibilities of a different medium -— that of fabric. It is interesting to speculate what sort of painter he would have become without this essential experience—and also, in what direction the textile industry would have taken without his vision.
After more than 100 years of activity, in 1988, the company of Bianchini-Ferier transferred to new offices. In 2002, the ownership of the company was transferred to Cédric Brochier Soieries, in Lyon, and is now known as the Société Nouvelle Bianchini-Férier, which continues to produce original Bianchini-Férier and new designs.