Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Embroidery from Provence

When I was in France this winter browsing the bookstores, I came across this charming and not very well-known embroidery book and thought I would share it with you. The title is a lovely play on words. Provence - particularly the Bouches du Rhone is famous for the wind called the Mistral blasting down the Rhone valley from the mountains. And if you look carefully at the paintings and sketches made by Van Gogh in St Remy de Provence you will see he painted the Mistral. Even on a clear blue sunshiny day the air can be in a howling rage all about you and the only thing you can see that's different is a slight curl to the top of the high pines and cypresses. Mistral is also the name of Frédéric Mistral who was instrumental in preserving and promoting the ways of the old Langue d'Oc of the south (as opposed to the Langue d'Oui of the North).
There are a number of little projects described and charted in this book based upon that old southern culture. Here you can see some pretty pockets embroidered with ladies in their Arlesienne finery. Every year there is a festival where the women of Arles dress - and my goodness me, they are beauties in their costume!
Here you can see a project to embellish a shirt - this is very much in the spirit of the Saintes Maries de la Mer where the summer attire for trekking on those fabulous white horses is a pair of chick jeans, cowboy boots and some exquisitely embroidered, tailored shirt.
Frédéric Mistral was responsible for founding the Museon Arlaten at the end of the 19th century. While this museum is undergoing a six-year restoration that began in 2009, you can still see some of the rooms illustrated in this book. And it's only a snip at around €11! Click here for more details.

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