Chintz: Cotton in Bloom Exhibition
n show in the UK for the first time, Chintz: Cotton in Bloom, at The Fashion and Textile Museum explores the remarkable history of chintz. Chintz is a printed or painted calico. The word derives from the Hindi word chint meaning “'spotted' or 'sprayed'”, it originated in modern-day India and Pakistan thousands of years ago.
The exhibition shows how this colourful, floral conquered hearts throughout Europe and how it has since been cherished and preserved across generations. One of our clients The Fife Arms has brought the look into the hotel with the colourful wallpaper and mix of pattern and print. This concept has inspired the floral chintz shirt for their housekeeping uniform.
Chintz: Cotton in Bloom showcases some 150 examples of this treasured textile from around the world. It is a collection with an extraordinary story, spanning hundreds of years and thousands of miles. The complicated technical craftsmanship required to fix bright dyes to cotton, devised across centuries and using complex chemical formulae, meant that for many years Chintz was a closely guarded secret, or preserve of the elite. However, by the 18th century chintz had become more widely accessible. The lightweight, washable, gaily coloured and boldly patterned cottons eventually became a sensation throughout England and across Europe. These developments resulted in the intricate, colourful flowers of chintz fabric being cherished and preserved by generations.
The exhibition focuses on the printed, painted, and glazed chintz calicos made in seventeenth and eighteenth-century India which took Europe by storm. The displays are highly varied, with a mixture of flat objects like mittens and detachable sleeves in vitrines and three-dimensional objects, from gowns to jackets to caps, on mannequins. When visitors enter the exhibition space, they are met by a large wall text explaining chintz’s connection to the slave trade, an essential acknowledgment in exhibitions about objects made for international trade during that time period.
The exhibition ends with highlighting modern interpretations of chintz, looking at how it has been developed with the trends. In the 2010s, numerous publications wrote about the chintz comeback, including Vogue, which in 2018 called it “the print that’s back in a big way”. Richard Quinn and Erdem are among a few of the designers that have brought the style back into the spotlight, as seen by Billy Porter at London Fashion Week, February 2020. The modern bold variation is growing as a uniform design aesthetic for luxury hospitality, as fabulously represented by the doormen at Annabel's in Mayfair.
‘Chintz: Cotton in Bloom’ is open at the Fashion and Textile Museum until 12 September 2021.
For more information about the exhibition visit https://www.ftmlondon.org/ftm-exhibitions/chintz-cotton-in-bloom/
Written by Bethan - Product Development Assistant
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