What is toile? Why is it so popular again?

Toile is often associated with vintage wallpaper or antique china. It’s a timeless and intricate pattern, rich in history. Toile was printed on cotton fabric before it became the dream of cottage-core designers. The French word “wall” literally means “cloth” in French. This trend has been in fashion for three years and can be seen in everything, from formal wear to flip-flops. It is now a popular design choice for a classic “grand millennial” style.

The History of Toile

Toile used a single ink color and was printed on a white background. Toile used to be printed with black, blue, or red inks. However, new dyes and pigments have made it possible to produce toile in many other colors. Green is a popular choice.

Christophe-Philippe Oberkampf is the person responsible for toile. He is a German man who was raised in a family of fabric dyers and furthered his artistic training by traveling across Europe and working with skilled tradespeople. Oberkampf was an engraver before returning to the fabric industry. He etched intricate images and motifs into metals. This unique talent gave Oberkampf the inspiration and knowledge to create highly decorative fabrics that blurred the line between art and cloth.

Oberkampf combined his talents as an artist, dyer, and engraver to create a method for printing fabric with engraved wood boards. He also found partners willing to finance a factory to mass-produce the material. Oberkampf established his fabric factory in Jouy-in-Josas in 1760. This was due to its proximity to water. The factory of Toile de Jouy was located in the valley of Bievre, just ten miles from Paris and four miles from Versailles.

Oberkampf’s first printing panels featured pastoral scenes. They were rendered in stunning detail and printed in repeating patterns. Oberkampf died in 1815. These panels heavily influenced the Rococo movement from the later Baroque period. Rococo architecture and design are known for their asymmetry, pastel, white colors, gilding, and intricate moldings. One of the most impressive Rococo creations was the trompe-l’oeil frescoes. These frescoes used highly realistic painting and forced perspective to create lifelike scenes and transformed spaces into optical illusions.

Toile de Jouy was quickly a success with Paris’ wealthiest. It soon gained a following with Marie Antoinette, who, as a French queen, had a strong influence on Europe’s nobility. Oberkampf presented another of his inventions in 1785 that would change the design landscape forever: the first machine to print wallpaper.

Toile Today

Toile de Jouy, a fashionable interior and clothing design choice in the late 18th century and early 19th century, was regarded as a status symbol among the wealthy.

Toile de Jouy is a timeless design that has been in fashion. However, it has seen a surge in popularity over the years. It was rediscovered in Colonial Revival and rediscovered again by designers in the 1970s when the American Bicentennial encouraged people to revisit the Colonial Era’s design trends. It was back in style in 2020.

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