Monday 28 October 2013

Penlee House Museum - In search of Crysede

Last week, whilst down in Cornwall for the History 51 event in St Ives, I was lucky enough to be shown some of the Crysede collection at Penlee House in Penzance by the lovely Katy one of the curators there.

I'd made an appointment in advance and was shown behind the scenes where the samples and garments are kept. It was great being able to actually see the designs close up. There were quite a few interesting design details on the garments that aren't really visible from the photographs. I felt very honoured!

Here's some background information on Crysede. I'm still learning about the firm...

Crysede was established in 1920 by Alec Walker who trained as a painter but came from a manufacturing textile background in Yorkshire.  In 1923 Walker met Raoul Dufy (a French Fauvist painter 1857-1953) in Paris who suggested that Walker design textiles. 

Walker used bright bold colours and abstract images of the landscape around Cornwall, including his own garden at Myrtle Cottage in Newlyn. Designs which to me look very modern and wouldn't look out of place being worn today. 

"You can take the most simple things in everyday life, and turn it into one of the most beautiful things, merely through a sense of design" Alec Walker (1889–1964)

Just some of the designs I was able to see

In 1925 Walker was joined by the designer Tom Heron (father of the painter Patrick Heron) The designs were very popular with the avant-garde in the 20s and 30s and there were a number of shops in the UK - Penzance, Southsea to name a few. Crysede designs were also sold in Libertys London as well as to the fashion elite in Paris. It was a famous and desirable brand in its day.

Crysede was initially based in Newlyn, but moved to St Ives in 1926. 

Alec Walker left the company in 1929 due to a nervous breakdown. The firm was continued by Tom Heron until 1939 when it ceased trading. It was then rebranded as Cresta Silks. I don't know much about this time of the business, so will be doing some more research...

Some of my favourite items from their collection
I have discovered that an Emily Woolcock worked at Crysede, I don't know what the family link is yet. The wonderful folks at the St Ives Archive have offered to help me find out as it would be wonderful to have a link to Crysede seeing that I already have a link to Flawns through my mum. 

And last but not least this was my overall favourite dress from the collection! Which turned out to be more coat than dress as it opened at the front. I LOVE the style and the pattern - which I think is very reminiscent of a Kimono design. 

This is definitely a style I will be looking to recreate...can you tell what my next project is going to be....?

oh how I love this dress!

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