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The French Muse Ruth Ribeaucourt

1700s silk – embellished with tiny hand stitched darns.

The dealer laughed when I started taking photographs – she turned the textile over to show me the other side, the ‘real’ side, an incredible Indienne print.

This is the ‘vrai coté” she informed me with a smile.

I was photographing the silk and wool underside of the bed cover, which had been worn threadbare with wear and age.

The French Muse Ruth Ribeaucourt

I can appreciate a beautiful intact antique textile but I’ll choose to fall hard for something worn and darned and falling apart every time.

The French Muse Ruth Ribeaucourt

Perhaps it is in seeing these tiny little stitches – either to embellish or repair something  – that binds me to its maker.

The French Muse Ruth Ribeaucourt

Rather than buy a new designer dress to wear to a party – I will fall hard for a crumbling remnant of a forgotten dream. Fragments plagued by “inherent vice” and “glass-bead disease” ….intrigued you must read more here.

The French Muse Ruth Ribeaucourt

The further down this rabbit hole of antique textile discovery I delve – the more intrinsically connected I become to the humanity behind the textile; to the hands that once sewed; embroidered; mended; dyed; worked the loom; and darned.

The French Muse Ruth Ribeaucourt1800s workers trousers… Turn them inside out and behold a tapestry of mending stitches.

And woven into the fabric is life itself, the makers dreams; love stories; layers of history; frivolity; a story of colour, heritage and knowledge….a tangible link to the human story behind a garment

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A time machine.

A love letter.

An accidental work of art.

The French Muse Ruth Ribeaucourt

An embroidered indigo cape worn by a Vendean Rebel in 1700s

A vessel for lost dreams, for battles fought and won and lost again.

The French Muse Ruth Ribeaucourt

Best of all – I’m not alone, I’ve met so many wonderful kindred spirits – some are even more nuts about the tiny stitches than I.

We share a joyful secret. We are all connected by these threads.

I always like to ask my favourite dealers, women who have been collecting for 30-40 years, what makes their heart flutter. Their answers always differ and fascinate me. For some it is embellishment, beading and lace, for others white-on-white intricate boutis and then there is Francoise who loses her mind over workers garments (socks, long-johns, shirts) – turned inside out they reveal their true selves, each year a different mend, using a different colour of thread until they all fuse to create a symphony of stitches.

Here is to making 2016 a wonderful journey of discovery. A year of  beauty, friendship, passion,  kindness and love.

I have so much more to share with you here and on Instagram – so do follow along on our journey in 2016

xx

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