Behind every design is an inspiration, a starting point, a daydream, a muse. This summer I was lucky enough to spend two weeks with the family in Normandy staying in the grounds of a breathtakingly beautiful chateau.
We stayed in a little-known area of Normandy which is a hotspot of brocante boutiques. Being just a couple of hours from the port of St Malo, it made a great destination by car (Our adorable whippet, Noodles, also made his first trip overseas with us!). A favourite weekend bolthole of chic Parisians, this part of Normandy is where many search out interesting ‘objects’ to deck out their apartments or family chateaux.
Summer is a good time to visit not just for the brocantes but also the markets and vide-greniers (attic clearance sales) that take over sleepy village greens and squares.
And so, my Normandy musings brought inspiration aplenty, from florals and stripes to ginghams, ruffles and silks, but most notably a toile. On my return I got to the drawing board. Together with our talented in-house illustrator Rachelle and graphics team, we created a toile that is an exemplification and celebration of female friendship and freedom. Named Toile Liberté, the design depicts women dancing and drinking wine, together with a little French bulldog and a camellia flower inspired by the Chanel camellia, a nod to Coco Chanel’s contribution to the elevation of women in 20th century society. A carefully considered design that will age with grace and elegance – just what we want for ourselves.
We are lucky to work with one of the UK’s best, and most lovely, seamstresses (meet Janet in ‘Brunch With’ below) and have used the fabric on cushions, a tote bag and our exceptional Toile Liberté Bed. 100% made in the UK, and soon to grace the ‘New In’ pages of some of our favourite interiors magazines, we hope you’ll love it as much as we do (and as much as the press have!). See the designs here.
Toile translates as ‘story’ in colloquial French. The 18th century designs depict tales and stories of pastoral scenes. So, that is the summer story of inspiration (and fun!) behind our French Bedroom ‘toile story’!
In addition, as part of our pledge to provide bed linen of the highest quality from 'conscious cotton', and to work with female manufacturing, we’ve launched a bed linen set woven and crafted by our heritage Pakistani partners. It’s ethically made from Oeko-Tex certified fabric (which ensures no harmful chemicals are used) and the cotton is sourced from the Better Cotton Initiative. No other bed-linen set I’ve felt (even in the £500+ bracket!) compares to the luxurious feel of this satin weave which has such a sleek, soft feel and a glow-like silk! It’s like buttercream and silk to the touch. One thing I’ve learnt over 25 years working with cottons is that not all bed linen is the same, despite the published thread count. And of course, the ruffles on the bed linen were inspired by curtains during my stay in the Normandy chateau.
Wishing you and your children a peaceful back to school. Good luck with the name tape sewing (I’m ironing mine on!), the shoe shopping trips and school hair cuts - I’m with you! And when you close the front door behind them you’ll definitely have earnt a morning moment of peace avec un café au lait and one of our silk eye masks and / or silk pillowcases! High five for getting through alllllll those weeks of summer hols. We’ll be missing them by next week!
Lisou was founded by Rene Macdonald out of necessity: a company designed to fulfil a gap in the market that previously didn’t really exist.
Unenthused by an endless carousel of fabrics in greys and browns, and bored with one party too many in a little black dress, Lisou’s founder Rene Macdonald decided to bring some of the vibrant colour clashes of her homeland Tanzania: injecting fun and joy into the wardrobes of women with her own elegant, colourful designs! The Lisou collection is full of wearable, classic shapes with a modern twist and is made from the finest silks. All prints are designed in-house by Rene, which makes every Lisou print exclusive. This story sounds familiar and very close to how French Bedroom started… Whilst we were styling beds; Rene’s team kindly styled us for an upcoming campaign, here is a sneak peek of our Managing Director, Holly wearing the Simone Pink Red Lip Print Silk Twill Shirt.
Our Toile Liberté Tote Bag is quickly selling out. Hand-made in a family-run company based in London, the exclusive Toile Liberté fabric is a celebration of women. Meaning ‘freedom’ in French, our Liberté design celebrates the freedom we have. Every hand-drawn detail on our exclusive royal blue toile fabric is a celebration of women and our status in the 21st century. Upon close inspection, you will find illustrations of women dancing and drinking wine, alongside a French bulldog. These are well-considered additions, emphasising our freedom to happily exist in a modern society. Alongside this, we have included a camellia flower inspired by the Chanel camellia; a nod to Coco Chanel’s contribution to the elevation of women in 20th century society, in which she used masculine tailoring to create androgynous silhouettes that allowed women to flourish. A carefree style statement featuring a convenient front pocket and a tactile blue tassel.
We’re loving Sloafer, sneaker-soled ballet flats, for women who want comfy, beautiful flats. They design a ballerina that gives you both. We recently met Lucy Herron, Sloafer co-founder who shared her story with us, “I loved ballet pumps and my husband loved sneakers. Every time we went away anywhere, he'd say "you going to pack some comfy shoes?" I always insisted on packing a few ballet pumps but they were all uncomfortable. When I was pregnant and really fed up with uncomfortable shoes I could feel the ground through, we stuck a 1cm on a pair of flats to see what would happen. And the rest, they say, is ... Sloafer.” We love The Allie as the season transitions into autumn.
BRUNCH WITH... JANET
Describe your perfect Sunday…
My perfect Sunday would be visiting an Art Gallery, museum or a stately home. I’m currently studying for a BA (Hons) in Art History and Classical Studies so anywhere that I could admire our heritage of artworks whether the sculpture gallery at Chatsworth House or the V&A Museum in London would be a treat!
What does ‘Me Time mean to You?
A long soak in the bath. It is where I can close my eyes, not be disturbed and be alone with my thoughts… a glass of wine on the side would be a welcome companion!
What’s your preferred sleeping position?
Curled up in a ball, however, I suffer from Restless Leg Syndrome so it can often take a while before I can finally find a comfortable position. It always amazes me that whatever position I go to sleep in I always wake up looking at the ceiling?
How do you relax and unwind after a busy day?
Catching up with a mini-series on the box. We have just finished the Yellowstone, 1883 and 1923 series which were amazing! Pure escapism featuring strong and sometimes feisty women who were unafraid to be individuals.
Fabric and textiles are obviously very important to you. What are your favourite textiles and what memories or feelings do they trigger?
A crisp cotton or cotton lawn especially those with that particular smell of freshly laundered and ironed fabric. I am instantly transported back to my childhood wearing a new dress! I love making dresses for my granddaughter and get as much joy seeing her wear them as I did all those years ago.