Here I am in Pont-l’Abbé in the Finistère. I have an appointment with Solenn Boënnec, the scientific manager at the Bigouden Museum. Bigouden is particularly recognized for its textile traditions. Solenn’s passion for these traditions, this know-how begins with her grandmother who wore the traditional headdress, in the Celtic Circles.
At Carré Royal we rely on many textile traditions, while regularly creating collections in coated canvas (from Northern Italy), in Harris Tweed (from Scotland). After which, we mix materials, and combine different skills, to create wallets, clutches, shopping bags.
The traditions of embroidery
Solenn mentions the importance of embroidery in the wardrobe of rural communities in the Bigouden region.
The use of embroidery was well established at the beginning of the 19th century. The profession of embroiderer is first and foremost an itinerant, masculine profession. The embroiderers move, in fact, from farm to farm to carry out their work, often on very thick woolen sheets with colored silk threads.
La Maison Pichavant
In 1867, Maison Pichavant moved to Pont-l’Abbé. This company had a driving role in the development of the textile industry in the Bigouden region. The company, while serving the local market, benefited from the “Bretonisation” of clothing and conquered urban markets, mainly through the intermediary of Parisian department stores.
Through the installation of this industry in the city, women participated in the development of this know-how, in particular with the work of “white embroidery”, 1880s onward. They used the picot technique.
Afterward, due to the drop in orders from rural communities, local players turned to new markets, the one of Arts & Decorative, with the development of religious embroidery, embroidery for armchairs, curtains, and tablecloths.
This industry unfortunately almost disappeared in the 1950s/1960s.
Within Carré Royal, we also made wallets with embroidery, mainly floral patterns.
In 1902, Brittany was hit by the sardine crisis. This crisis caused major economic difficulties. Several factory owners, including many women, imported and developed this know-how, this activity by leaning on crochet lace, a technique which was borrowed from the Irish.
The Bigoudene headdress
The Bigoudene headdress is the traditional headdress worn by women in the Bigouden region. The latter was small in the 19th century, its size grew from 1905 until 1930, gaining on average 1 cm per year, to reach a maximum size of 40cm during the Second World War.
This embroidery or lace know-how essentially continues today, locally, in associations or with designers like Mathias Ouvrard.
I will be delighted to come across other textile traditions in France or elsewhere, do not hesitate writing to me.
The photographs in this letter, and, on our Instagram and Facebook pages are from the Bigouden Museum or the private collection of Solenn Boënnec. These photographs show in particular the grandmother of Mrs. Boënnec.
To know more about my letter and the author, I invite you to visit our Carré Royal Letters page.
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The history and ethnography journal of the Bigouden region, Cap Caval
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The Letter– The Box Tops
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Boutique : Fleurs de Carotte
It is thanks to Caroline and Anne-Sophie at Fleurs de Carotte, in Pont l’Abbé, that I was able to discover the incredible textile tradition in the Bigouden region. Fleurs de Carotte presents our collections of Carré Royal accessories.