Review: London Antique Textiles Fair

The Textile Society’s Antique Textile Fair which was held at Chelsea Old Town Hall on Sunday 4th October had its usual vast treasure trove of textile delights. I’ve gathered some images and stories of a few of my favourites here:

The featured image above is of some vintage Frazadas from Peru. Sue Richardson of Gallery 196 tells me these pieces are made and used in the Andes as blankets or rugs to keep the chill out. They take up to 3 months to make and are traditionally woven by hand on a back strap loom in two pieces, which are then decoratively sewn together and edged.  Alongside these Gallery 196 have many much-loved kantha quilts, embroidered cushions and ethnic garments from India and other textiles from across the world.

Rebecca Engels' stand

Rebecca Engels’ stand

More kantha quilts can be found at Rebecca’s Aix’s stand, alongside classic traditional french linens as fabric lengths or cushions which she makes herself, adding salvaged strips of leather for the straps. Included are these Indienne style Bleu Anglaise (another regular trader at the fair) indigo block printed fabric cushions which unfortunately you can’t see the main design of in the above image, but check out her page to find more.

I also loved the Hungarian runners which you can see on the bottom part of the above image. They are hard wearing pieces woven from recycled fabric. Some are uniformed in design and some more rustic.


Miao Hmong beaded hats from Guizhou Province in China. Ron Simpson and Panya (Toy) Suwan collection. Photo: Ruth Clifford

I loved these Miao Hmong beaded hats from Guizhou province in China, in the collection of Ron Simpson and Panya (Toy) Suwan who have a broad range of textiles from around the world, mainly Asia.


Andy Lloyd’s stand. Andy specialises in early Ottoman, Coptic and Greek Island textiles. The piece on the back wall is an 18th century bed curtain from Rhodes one of the Dodecanese Greek islands. Photo: Ruth Clifford

On the upper balcony the winners of the Textile Society awards displayed their degree collections.

Sally Cooke has recently graduated from an MA in Creative Practice at Leeds College of Art and Design. She has her own brand and is developing what she called ‘flat pack fashion’ kits. Addressing the need to make textiles and clothes more longer lasting, valued and to encourage consumers to move away from the throw-away fashion culture, Sally’s packs provide the customer with a set of cut fabrics ready to be sewn. It gives the customer a chance to have a go at making their own clothes, but in a slightly faster way, avoiding the need for the time consuming pattern making bit.


Sally Cooke Postgraduate Textile Society Award Winner. Photo: Ruth Clifford

Charlotte Street (Cast Design) was the winner of the Lucienne Day award, named after the pioneering mid-century furnishing fabric designer who was the Textile Society’s first honorary president. Charlotte graduated from a BA in textiles at Bath Spa University. She uses drawing, watercolour, photography and digital manipulation techniques to create layered, trompe-l’œil textile imagery that reveals optimistic “hidden and overlooked beauty”.


Charlotte Street, winner of the Lucienne Day award and her award winning home furnishings collection

Alongside the promotion and showcase of some of the pieces in Janie Lightfoot‘s collection of conserved textile costume and textiles was a display of kantha embroidered textiles by the women of SHE based in Kolkata. SHE stands for Self Help Enterprise and works to empower women through the revival of kantha embroidery.


SHE India – textiles from West Bengal including an embroidered portrait of Rabindranath Tagore, the renowned Bengali polymath (writer, poet, universalist and key figure in the swadeshi (self-sufficiency)) movement in the early 20th century.

Other regular traders included the renowned collector and author John Gillow, who you will always catch at both the Manchester and London fairs,  Jenpatola – selling traditional textiles from India, Clive Rogers of Orient Rug, selling world, specifically Asian antique textiles and rugs, Retropattern – mid-century artist’s textiles from Britain, Slow Loris – traditional textiles from minority communities in South West China, and lots more…

The next ATF will celebrate 25 years of the Textile Society fairs and Lucienne Day’s centenary. It will be held on 30th April 2017. For more details on this and other events including the conference Textile Futures on 5th November, see the Textile Society website.

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