This French textile house’s archive has treasures dating back 500 years and it’s still creating classics
A family-run firm since its inception in 1935, French fabric and wallpaper brand Pierre Frey is a unique mix of heritage and innovation. Its commitment to preserving the spirit of the past is unwavering, but it also seeks out new talent from the very best design schools to add a fresh element to its seasonal collections. This combination of influences is evident in the new ‘Arapahos’ range, which is inspired by Native American crafts. Geometric prints based on traditional blankets and embroideries, such as the brightly coloured ‘Cochiti’ linen canvas, are teamed with metallic textures and plain wools in spicy colours to create a modern, eclectic feel. But there are also other ideas in the mix: the ‘La Smala’, for instance, which depicts Native Americans in headdress, and the ‘Namata’ fabric and ‘Missouri’ wallpaper, which draw on the Eastern ikats and classical stripes in the firm’s extensive archive.
This archive was created in 2003 and consists both of the brand’s own treasures and those of the four historic manufacturers it has acquired over the years. Notable among the latter is Braquenié, created in 1824 and bought by Pierre Frey in 1991. It was regarded as the finest French interior design house of the 19th century, supplying sumptuous fabrics and hand-woven rugs to European royalty, wealthy collectors such as the Rothschilds, and many cultural figures, including composer Frédéric Chopin. Among its contributions to the archive are antique paintings, samples of luxurious Aubusson and Savonnerie carpets and centuries-old textiles.
Pierre Frey’s most recent acquisition is Le Manach, a textile company founded in the French city of Tours in 1829. Its archive contains documents dating all the way back to the Renaissance. Plans for the brand’s revival involve reproducing its designs in modern colours, using artisan methods. Accordingly, the ‘Heritage’ wallpaper collection consists of 14 hand-screen-printed patterns representing a range of antique styles. ‘Les Lions’ recreates an 18th-century neoclassical motif, while the colourful ‘ Taraz’ celebrates Le Manach’s impressive range of ikats. Other patterns are surprisingly contemporary – such as ‘Floride’, a diagonal stripe with soft feathered edges. Like everything Pierre Frey does, it combines the best of old and new. pierrefrey.com Clockwise from top ‘Cochiti’ linen canvas, £427.20 per metre; ‘Alabama’ cotton, £160.80 per metre; ‘Taraz’ wallpaper by Le Manach, £422.40 per five-metre roll, all Pierre Frey ( pierrefrey.com)