There was a gravitational pull too strong to resist when the Nell Hill's team and I happened upon Acquitaine Fabrics at the Showtime fabric market this year. The fabrics are so sophisticated. And, the cameos. Oh my goodness, the cameos. (More on that in a minute...)
Today's blog is part of an occasional series of posts spotlighting some of our favorite textile companies. Acquitaine Fabrics is definitely at the top of the list. Their soft, compelling designs are hugely popular with our customers. But at market, this remarkable British textile company got another huge checkmark in my book when I discovered that Debbie Hill, the company's founder, and I share a love of cameos. When I saw her lovely jewelry, I felt an instant bond.
Let me pause and give some quick background on my cameo obsession. Years ago, Dan and I were poking through a quaint antique store in Carmel, Calif., when I happened upon a beautiful cameo ring. I had just had a big birthday, so I turned to Dan and said, "I think you forgot to give me a birthday gift this year." I've worn that ring every day since, nestled with my wedding band. You can just see it in the photo above, in the dish holding some of my jewelry.
Mary Carol: Tell us a little about yourself and your role with the company.
Debbie: I studied textile design and all the technical background that goes with it over 30 years ago. I have always enjoyed enhancing and creating beautiful things, hence my love of cameos. My role in the company involves most of the creative elements along with, as most have to do, mundane tasks like making sure the bills get paid and the wheels don't come off the wagon, which on hectic days it feels like they may do.
Mary Carol: When and how did Acquitaine Fabrics come about?
Debbie: I took a leap of faith in 2005 and decided to start Acquitaine with a mission to produce furnishing fabrics of a very high standard, both in terms of quality and design. Anybody who has ever started a company will realize one of the most difficult things, except for the obvious things, is thinking of a company name. I was listening to the radio and there was a program about the history of Eleanor of Aquitaine, a pioneering female who was married to England's King Henry II. I kept hearing the name Aquitaine and thought it may be a lucky omen. We are still relatively small, but we are very proud of the representation we get from overseas markets, especially in the U.S.
Mary Carol: Where do you find your inspiration for the fabric designs?
Debbie: Inspiration comes from many sources: fashion, exhibitions, popular art forms, anything that we consider has beauty. We are very meticulous at every stage of the design process, and some designs have taken us nearly two years to create.
Mary Carol: Are your designs reproductions of documented antique fabric patterns? Tell us about this.
Debbie: A large proportion of our designs are document inspired. However, we do like to originate some inspirational pieces using fine artists. A recent one was Clouds, which took inspiration from a Turner sky, and I can honestly say it was the most difficult design I have ever printed, ever. We use the documents as a starting point, and then we like to bring them into the 21st century with modern techniques and color.
Mary Carol: How would you describe the fabrics in your line?
Debbie: Designs you can live with for a long time. It is important for us to create fabrics that have a lovely relaxed feel, with the linen base and the design and color. At the same time, we add a touch of something different. We also use the very best materials available. The linen is woven using the best raw material, and the same is true down the line in the printing and finishing.
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