Our Spring 2023 collection brings back naturally dyed pieces using the flowering herb woad. Woad (Isatis tinctoria) is a perennial herb in the broccoli family that we discovered near one of our factories in Toulouse. In fact, Toulouse was once known as the hub of woad trade and its use in the textile industry. It was the reigning blue dye in Europe until the arrival of indigo in the middle of the 16th century. This heritage can still be seen today in the blue shutters in Toulouse.
These pieces are dyed by hand in a small atelier in Toulouse that uses ancestral techniques. The techniques, namely recipes for extracting pigment are sourced from old books. When the atelier started out, woad seeds were sourced from a conservatory that dates to Napoleon, who used woad to dye uniforms. The atelier then partnered up with local farmers to plant the woad for their dyes. Working with the bacteria in the dyeing process is unpredictable; sometimes it doesn’t work because of the properties of the fabric or the weather. It requires taking good care of the dyeing vat and having a good sense of the properties of different fabrics.
Woad has a long root, making it almost indestructible. The herb has indigo as the main dyeing component and is often mixed with indigo to get darker hues. Given the right conditions, the woad leaves start to ferment, excreting pigment into the water. The fabric is then dipped into the dye vat. When the fabric comes out of the dye vat it is yellow-green until oxidation turns it pastel blue in a matter of minutes. The medicinal plant is also known to have an anti-inflammatory effect as well as healing properties for the skin.
Naturally dyed garments are sensitive to sun exposure and washing method. To ensure colorfastness, do not dry or store in direct contact with the sun. Wash with a natural or pH neutral detergent in cool water. Hang dry.
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