September 20, 2021

France -The Souleiado Museum in Tarascon

At the cause of the pandemic, last year I've discovered the south of France and, most importantly, I've discovered I like it. Also last year, I've discovered an YouTube channel called The Chateau Diaries where the owner of a castle in France started vlogging about life at the castle and about her passions, one of them being old fabrics such as Toile de Jouy and this Souleiado.

I remember briefly that last year on our visit to Tarascon, I've passed by the museum, but did not bother to enter as I knew Souleiado being a luxury brand I find interesting, but not interesting enough to spend my money on. 

But, after seeing Stephanie's vlog at the museum, convinced me that it is actually in line with my passion for the history of textiles. Arriving there I also found out that they allow dogs in the museum and that was the final click that proved it was the right thing to visit. 

So a bit about Souleiado and the printed cotton in Provence, France.

Tarascon is located close to Marseille, a big port, where all the printed fabrics would arrive from India and Turkey, the locals naming the fabrics "indienne". The local craftsmen saw the beauty of those fabrics and started producing their own in most cases employing Armenian craftsmen. Quickly they became more affordable than the embroidered silk produced in Lyon that was in fashion at that time in France. As well they were introduced into the French Royal Court and soon they started replacing the silk. The silk manufacturers complained to the king which was Louis the XIV and he gave an edict banning the wearing, the production and the sale of printed cottons. So the producers in Marseille were forced to either go to England, Switzerland or Alsace, which was in Germany at that time or to go to Avignon, which was under the property of the Pope and not the King. Seeing that his edict did not stop the Provencal printed fabrics, the king gave three years later a second edict, ordering the destruction of everything related to the printing of cotton. The producers, having huge quantities of white cotton,  specialised in quilting, a technique which is called "boutis" and it is to be found even in Romania on the blouses of Banat region. Only in Banat, it met the Balcanic influence and the embroidery is not made with white thread, but with metallic thread, the technique being somewhat similar. 

Two kings later, Marie Antoinette was queen and she loved all the things inspired by the peasant life and she reintroduced printed cottons to the court in Versailles. From then on they were called Provencal fabrics and the women from the region introduced them into their traditional dress. 

In 1806 the first textile factory was open in the convent in Tarascon by Jean Jourdan, it passed from generation to generation and from money crises to money crises until 1916 when it was the last "indienne" (cotton printed as in India) maker in Provence. A chemist, Charles Henri Demery decided to save the factory, bought it and under his influence the factory flourished. His nephew inherited the factory with only 10 employees and made it what we see today. It changed ownership in 2009, but the current owners only continue what was put in place then. All the history is here.

Today, Souleiado is what I would call a luxury brand, its popularity increased when Princess Diana wore a bag produced by Souleiado at a horse race or something and you can find their stores all over the south of France, the closest one to Luxembourg being the one in Paris. 

Souleiado started its textile production with handkerchiefs, ribbons and scarfs like the ones you can see women wearing around their neck and tight around the waist. 

In France as in Romania, children clothes rarely survived, so when you see an every-day dress in a museum look closely and appreciate it. 

I love the delicacy of the everyday clothes

In the museum, besides mannequins dressed in Souleiado fabrics there are a dining area and a bedroom also decorated with printed cotton.

Even the floor is something that I would include in my house today

This is what I was saying above. When the king Louis the XIV gave the edict banning the production of printed cotton, the craftsmen found themselves with a lot of white cotton. So they perfected the trapunto quilting technique from Italy, but called "boutis".  The embroidery from Banat region in Romania is first of all an embroidery technique and not a quilting one, but the result is similar to what you can see in the embroidery loop, just that instead of sewing white fabric over white fabric, you put cotton or wool on the design and cover it with metallic thread. To me it looks similar, to a trained person this could be a lot of rubbish. 

Even the bathrooms in Souleiado Museum are worth a visit

There are a few cases with pottery from the region and it is all lovely, but I've liked this jug the most.

Inside one of the interior courtyards.

There are, of course, the more contemporary Souleiado creations. This one I think I saw on the Chateau Diaries

I love the skirts, but I haven't seen them on their store and I doubt I could let myself buy one as they are expensive, to me.

Come on, tell me this is not something you would wear today?

Finally, Princess Diana's bag in a Souleiado store in Arles, I think.
The museum also has a shop which, to my husband's relief, I forgot to visit :)

I hoped you found this post somewhat interesting. I intend to write such posts from time to time, not only related to textiles, but next will be one on jewellery, another on a very contemporary trend and a love of mine, stripes :), so posts about things that I find interesting, that are not necessarily related to us living in Luxembourg, but the connection is there, always.

This being said, I hope you like reading the post as much as I've enjoyed putting it together. I hope to see you on Instagram @mademoiselle.ralu 

September 13, 2021

Luxembourg - Luxembourgish children books, in English

In a multilingual and multicultural country as Luxembourg is I thought there will be a lot of books written by Luxembourgish writers or with the action placed in Luxembourg in English, but to my surprise beside city guides or books about Luxembourg as a country, I couldn't find any books in English. 

They have such a lovely and actual political fable by Michel Rodange, "Renert or the fox in a tailcoat and in human shape Renert oder de Fuuss am Frack an a Maansgréisst" which I've read in German, I think, but I would have liked to have it in English too and read it to Ilinca when she will be old enough to understand it. They have the tale of Melusina and Siegfried, based of a very old folktale. My colleagues said they grew up with the children books about the adventures of Maus Ketti, a country mouse who visits her cousin in the city and the other way around, a fable by Auguste Liesch. And I'm sure they have so many more, but I could not find anything translated into English.

Just yesterday, I've went to one of the big Luxembourgish book shops in the city and they confirmed that none of the examples above exists in English in a printed form. They guided me to the English book shop close to the Ducal Palace and there I found some books. Completed with what I've already had, here is an article about Luxembourgish books for children.

Of course I will start with my friend's book, "Our magic journey on earth. A book of kindness, friendship and respect" written by Clara Moraru and placed in the City of Luxembourg and Park Merl. It has three stories with lovely illustrations, it was written in English and Luxembourgish and you can order it here.

Another book which is not placed in Luxembourg, but it was written here and illustrated by a Luxembourgish artist I like is "Waking the mountain" written by Marina Fonseca with drawings by Lisa Junius. It is a very sensitive book about an actual topic. You will find it at the English Book Store.

Two books on a similar topic, to me at least, are "Wooow!!! Luxembourg Charlotte and Mister Owl's great adventure" and "Lucilinburhuc's treasure". Their characters are discovering Luxembourg.

In "Wooow!!! Luxembourg Charlotte and Mister Owl's great adventure" the author, Thomas Schoos and the ilustrator, Keong-A Song introduce the reader to Charlotte, a little girl who together with her friend, Mister Owl, tells the story of Luxembourgish places and myths, outside the city limits. 

In "Lucilinburhuc's treasure", two brothers start from the pirate ship playground in the city and following a treasure map, discover the old town and its legends and at the end they discover also a treasure. Written by Marie-Isabelle Callier. You can also find both books at the English book store.

Last but not least, I wanted to tell you about a book written by a mother and independent Luxembourgish artist, Anya Poulles which I've discovered over Instagram at the #mom_lu community. It's not in English, but it is a book for small children from where they can learn basic Luxembourgish words. "Meng eischt wierder" is called and you can order it on Instagram, here. We even wrote the translation in English and Romanian and made our copy multilingual.

It is not a children's book, but it helped me a lot to discover Luxembourg beyond the city guides, it's Anne Faber "Home sweet home... my Luxembourg".  It is indeed a cook book, but with a twist and it has pictures of places from Luxembourg related with food. Anne has five books in English and she is Luxembourgish and she is very active on Instagram.

If you live in Luxembourg and you are interested in books in English, besides the English Book Shop I've mentioned quite a few times, there is an online independent book shop called Little English Bookworm. They are very close to my heart as in the deepest and saddest lockdown they delivered to my door step books for me and Ilinca which made the corona times more colourful. So do check them out.

That is it from me, if you have other examples on books about Luxembourg, placed in Luxembourg or written by Luxembourgish writers, but in English, please dm me on Instagram @mademoiselle.ralu 

September 6, 2021

Luxembourg - Small weekend discoveries

We are in that stage of life where we only live for weekends. To me, the week passes very quickly, but come Friday I desperately look for things to do in the weekend so it will last me for the whole next week. Especially, as Saturday is half lost with grocery shopping, I need my Sundays to be filled with stuff to do.

So, if you are like me, my advice would be to look in your vicinity, look to the exhibitions your local museum is hosting, dare to check that sign on your road to work or to the supermarket, pointing to something you think you checked, but actually didn't. 

I did just that and here is what I have discovered:

I have told you numerous times about the exhibitions at Le Palais in Arlon (here and here at least) so one day I've passed the building and I saw they were preparing for a new exhibit. A few days later, I went with Ilinca prepared to not find anything worth longer than the patience of a toddler, but discovered a young artist, who lives nearby in Messancy, and who creates amazing works of art, lace sculpted in wood. Yes, it is very intricate and he must have a lot, but a lot of patience. First of all, the exhibition was organised by Osmoz'art, a group of artists from the Art Academy in Arlon. There were the works of art of twelve people, paintings mostly, but also sculpture and experiments with different mediums. The exhibition was on for just one week, in August 2021. To me, the embroidery and hand made passionate, the sculptures of Julien Feller were the real discovery. 

Another day, while driving to dm in Germany, we saw a sign leading to a Roman villa and mosaic. I thought my husband checked all the Roman vestiges in the area and I've asked how was the mosaic, thinking it is maybe a ruin of a square meter thing not worth my time. He said he did not remember any mosaic so we turned the car and went to check it out. Lo and behold, we discovered a mosaic as long as my back garden, almost intact, or restored anyway, and the ruins of a Roman Villa. Something I encourage you to visit if you live in Luxembourg and do your dm shopping in Perl. The villa and the mosaic are in Nennig, not to be confused with the Roman Villa Borg which is also close. 

If you like books and you go to Luxembourg City often, maybe you will profit from the outdoor library they opened close to the National Library. To me looking at the window, now, this seems a bit pointless, as it is the rainiest Summer to date, but a good book can transport you to another world, right? Also the organisers have planned lectures by known authors and have games and puzzles for children, so do check that thing up. First thing to know, it is on the back of the library, so if you come from Knuedler, down the stairs at Bierger Centre you cannot miss it, from the cathedral, just come to the Town Hall or see the next picture.

Although it has clear instructions in English, I haven't seen any book in English in this pocket library, but they mast have some. So check that out for me, too.

I know this Summer is more of an Autumn, cold and rainy, the lavender is lost, my tomatoes are lost, my carnations are hanging by a thread and only my roses seem to like this weather, I can count on my fingers the times we eat outside or had a bbq, but these small discoveries managed to put a smile on my face and that is all about isn't it?

As usual I am more on Instagram @mademoiselle.ralu

August 30, 2021

Cum sa NU purtati o camasa - IE

 Mi-a venit în cap postarea asta foarte aproape de 24 iunie și deci de Ziua Iei când toata lumea își scosese zestrea din dulap sau de prin lăzi și o postase pe rețelele de socializare. Sunt niște reguli de bun simț, zic eu, dar vreau să rămână aici pentru că și eu fac unele din aceste greșeli.

Din capul locului spun că eu nu sunt una dintre puristele care predică nepurtarea cămășii la blugi. Ba chiar o găsesc benefică pentru că astfel doamnele din secolul ăsta aduc din trecut un element al portului popular, ii găsesc utilizarea și nu îl uită. Așadar purtați ia cu ce vreți voi. Puneți mâna pe ac și faceți o cămașa urbana, purtăreață, aia chiar că merge la blugi, la palazzo, la chino, la bootcut, la ce vreți voi. 

1. Încercați să purtați cămașa cât mai aproape de statura ei inițială

Ce vreau să spun aici. În trecut cămășile, chiar și cele cu despicătura în față se purtau închise pe lângă gât. Și eu fac greșeala asta, pentru că eu nu pot purta nimic pe lângă gât, deci mai toate cămășile mele sunt făcute să stea ele țepene pe umerii mei cât să nu cadă pe spate, să nu își piardă ținuta. Dacă au brezărău fixez părțile cămășii și las mobile doar părțile din față. Dacă sunt cu bentiță, o cos în așa fel încât să stea locului. Evident, vorbesc de cămășile pe care le-am cusut eu. La cămășile pe care le cumpărați de pe net sau de prin târguri eu vă sfătuiesc să nu intervenți, să nu le modificați, decât dacă ați cusut 5 cămăși cu mâna voastră și ați stat cel puțin 10 ani pe grupul semne cusute în acțiune de pe fb. Altfel, croitoreasa, bunica, mătușa, prietena, vânzătorul... nu au cunoștințele (în sensul de knowledge) necesare pentru a modifica o cămașă veche.

2. Nu purtați cămășile cu poale fără fotă sau fusta pe deasupra

Da știu că pare angelic, diafan și frumos, dar de fapt sunteți cu fundul gol. Cămășile, mai ales cele vechi, nu au fost create pentru a fi purtate fără ceva pe deasupra. De cele mai multe ori poalele erau făcute din materiale de o mai proastă calitate, de cele mai multe ori acele materiale se rodeau prin frecarea cu fota, mai ales in Moldova unde fotele erau făcute din lână. Și chiar dacă aveți o cămașă cu poale într-o stare impecabilă și chiar dacă arătați perfect în ea, NU. Pur și simplu NU.

3. Fiți atente la proporțiile dintre cămașă și fotă/fustă

În special la doamnele mai în etate am văzut chestia asta și e un pic deranjantă. Sunt sigură că acele doamne sunt înconjurate de cațe care le mănâncă de fund și care nu le-ar spune ever că arată ridicol. Ei bine o fac eu. Nu știu dacă e o regulă, dar vizual ar fi ok ca de la sâni la brâu să fie o distanță de cel puțin o palmă. Arată oribil, dar oribil, să vă atârne sânii peste brâu. ORIBIL. Și, și mai oribil e să fii imortalizată pe vecie într-o poză așa pe internet să râdă alte cațe de tine. Vă trageți în poză, verificați poza. Este dreptul dvs. să spuneți ”NU îmi place acea poză, nu o vreau online”. Iar dacă vă place să vă pozați și vedeți că una dintre voi are breteaua de la sutien pe afara, o șuviță de păr aiurea, sânii peste fotă, deschideți gura și remediați situația, nu mai bârfiți pe la colțuri, că de asta suntem unde suntem.

4. Aveți grija la despicătura fotei

Fota vine parte peste parte de sus până jos, nu se trage pe fund sau pe burtă, nu lasă să se vadă poalele albe decât dacă voi vă puneți poalele-n brâu. Țărăncile de acum ceva vreme erau mult mai micuțe decât suntem noi acum. Așa încât, dacă vă achiziționați o fotă veche, aveți grijă să vă cuprindă. Fota se pune parte peste parte în față și trebuie să treacă binișor o parte peste o alta. Fota nu e ca o fustă parte peste parte, îmbinarea trebuie să fie dreaptă de sus până jos. Știu că sunt meșteri care țes și în zilele noastre fote, deci vă puteți face una pe dimensiuni. Sau dacă nu, purtați cămașa cu o fustă, fără model, și sunteți mult mai câștigate.

5. Purtați elementele costumului din aceeași zonă

Bine aici chiar și la muzee am văzut bazaconii, dar învățăm. Așadar ce vreau să spun aici. Cred că am trecut de faza ”vreau o cămașa mov să se potrivească cu o fotă mov”. Elementele de port popular nu se asortau una cu cealaltă. Ele se purtau pe regiuni. Dacă v-ați cusut sau v-ați cumpărat o cămașă dintr-o zonă și ați vrea să purtați tot costumul, cercetați ce vine în partea de jos a costumului și ce brâu sau ce paftale sau ce se pune în talie... Regina Maria purta o cămașă de Argeș la o fotă de Muscel, dar ea era Regina Maria, înțelegeți? Ea promova costumul, noi azi îl purtăm că ne place, e o mică nuanță acolo. Plus, din nou, cațele de pe net abia așteaptă. P.S. În opinia mea, costumul de Bucovina nu se poartă cu paftale. În opinia mea.

Acesta este un articol ce va fi revizuit din timp în timp. Dacă aveți sugestii, le primesc cu plăcere. Ne găsim pe Instagram @mademoiselle.ralu

P.S. Tabloul este pictat de Constantin Stahl și se află la Palatul Culturii din Iași, pe care vă îndemn să îl vizitați.

August 23, 2021

Belgium - Sakura of Arlon

I have totally forgot about posting this post and as you can probably tell (if you follow me on Instagram @mademoiselle.ralu) it is full Summer here in Arlonia, but I could not post the wild field flowers without posting this. 

The Saint-Donat church of Arlon is situated on the "Knippchen", this is the name of the hill where the church is built on. History tells us that on the same spot, the highest one in Arlon, there was probably a fortification of some sort build by the Gallo-Romans. Actually the whole Arlon is filled up with Roman vestiges and they are very proud of their Roman heritage. The capital of the Roman province was in Trier which was called "Augusta Treverorum" as Arlon was called "Orolaunum".

The Sain-Donat church was built by the “Capuchins" in the year 1626 and restored in the year 1851, and once again in the 19th century. The church is surrounded by a balcony called Belvedere from where, of course, you can see all the land around the city of Arlon.

During Spring, the cherry trees surrounding the Belvedere are in full bloom creating what I call, "the Sakura of Arlon". And again if you follow me on Instagram you might have spotted some lovely pictures taken there during the years.

That is it folks! If I have not said it in every paragraph of this post, do follow me on Insta as I am indeed more active there.