THE GAINS­BOR­OUGH SILK WEAV­ING COM­PANY

The Suf­folk tex­tile brand loved by Hol­ly­wood and Bri­tish roy­alty

ELLE Decoration (UK) - - Style | News -

The small mar­ket town of Sud­bury in Suf­folk is the birth­place of Thomas Gains­bor­ough, cel­e­brated por­traitist to the 18th-cen­tury aris­toc­racy. It’s easy to imag­ine his well-heeled sit­ters as clients of The Gains­bor­ough Silk Weav­ing Com­pany, estab­lished in his home­town in 1903. Its sump­tu­ous damask and bro­cade fab­rics have graced royal palaces and the Ti­tanic, as well as the set of the re­cently re­leased Beauty and the Beast film.

The com­pany was founded by Regi­nald Warner, an en­trepreneurial weaver who trav­elled around Europe and brought back ex­cep­tional fab­rics that he used to cre­ate in­no­va­tive new de­signs. More than a cen­tury later, Gains­bor­ough is still mak­ing its fab­rics by hand, us­ing looms from the 1920s. It op­er­ates from the same ‘weav­ing shed’ that it has owned since 1924.

The se­cret of Gains­bor­ough’s lus­trous silks is not only in its tra­di­tional meth­ods and high thread counts. Most im­por­tant is the type of silk used: fil­a­ment silk, the finest qual­ity thread avail­able, which is brought to Suf­folk all the way from China on the an­cient Silk Route. Once it reaches the fac­tory, a lengthy dye­ing and dry­ing process en­sues, and then it can take up to six days to weave 50 me­tres of fab­ric.

Though age-old tech­niques are the foun­da­tion of what Gains­bor­ough does, it has not re­mained frozen in time. In 2013, in­te­rior de­signer Rus­sell Sage was re­cruited as cre­ative di­rec­tor, and brought the com­pany a new au­di­ence by us­ing its tex­tiles in chic Lon­don venues the Gor­ing Ho­tel and Zet­ter Town­house Maryle­bone. And last year, de­signer Karen Beauchamp was com­mis­sioned to cre­ate two col­lec­tions. The first, ‘Re­nais­sance’ (top), puts a mod­ern twist on ar­chive pat­terns, from damasks to ging­ham checks, all in a con­tem­po­rary pal­ette. Her next col­lec­tion, ‘Out of the Blue’ – which she de­scribes as hav­ing ‘a 20th-cen­tury vibe’ – will bring even more fans ( gains­bor­ough.co.uk).

Gains­bor­ough’s damasks and bro­cades have graced film sets, royal palaces and the Ti­tanic

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