Monday, 9 April 2012

Swiss Handkerchiefs

There isn't much news at Betty Blue's HQ at the moment.  I am busy organising production on the Nell Robe in Black and designing new lovelies for you all, so I don't have much to report to you at the moment.  So to keep this ol' blog going I have found some items that I thought I would show you.

With the death of my Uncle and the subsequent clear out of his house, it has made me reflect rather a lot about my family history.  As my parents met and had children later in life, my Grandparents were that little bit older and so died when I was very young.  On clearing out a few things we found a great big bag of beautiful handkerchiefs.  My Dad's, Dad (my Grandpa) was a Handkerchief salesman when he was alive.  He imported beautiful Swiss handkerchiefs and sold them to various department stores all over the country.  When he died it seemed a shame to throw them all away as they were so beautiful so we kept them.  I have no idea what we are going to do with them all as there are hundreds but each one is so beautiful and intricate it seems a shame to throw them.  I might have a few framed so I can put them up on my office wall as inspiration as they truly are a sight to behold.  I have picked out a few that I particularly like.

This is what I would call a traditional white hankie.  100% cotton, it features a beautiful 'Deco-esque' embroidery on all four corners.  Oh I forgot to mention that I photographed these hankies on a dark background to try and highlight the decorative nature of them as they are mostly white patterns on white hankies so a little hard to photograph well.  They are also A LOT more stunning in person.  I also ironed all the hankies but after years of being folded the lines are somewhat impressed into the fabric.

Another white 100% cotton hankie, this time it has a beautiful lace surround.  I love how the main material of the hankie has been cut away from lace to make a pretty scalloped pattern - a little like my Nell Robe!  It is almost too beautiful to think that anyone would ever blow their nose on it!

This fine cotton hankie has a pretty little Valentines themed embroidery.  I like to think that a smart young gentleman would buy this to give to his Valentine.  That little gold splodge on it is just a little sticker saying that it is a Swiss hankie - original to the hankie of course :-).

I didn't know that hankies could be so cool!  I love the shape of this floral delight and it would go perfectly with a cute 50's summer dress.  Of my collection this is the only one that isn't the traditional square shaped hankie.

This hankie is absolutely stunning in real life.  It is completely covered in a tiny floral embroidery that shows machine embroidery off to its fullest.  I can't imagine anyone actually using these beautiful hankies, maybe ones like this were only used on special occasions like at a wedding.

Please excuse the flash in this photo.  Most of the hankies that I have are white with either a white motif or even a coloured embroidery, so this red hankie was a great find in the collection.  It is a bright red cotton with a beautiful heavy lace around the edges that reminds me of a Guipure lace.  I imagine it would have been more pricey than some of the other hankies.  I have some sets of 4 or 6 hankies pinned to a paper sleeve that still have the price tag on.  The price sticker has £1.45 on it, which I'm not sure if it meant £1.45 for the whole sleeve of hankies or £1.45 individually.  These would have been the price to the shop so they would then have added their margin.  Either way in 1940 these types of hankies would have been a fairly expensive item, and it is easy to see why with the beautiful and delicate embroideries, lace and motifs.

Seeing all these handkerchiefs made me think of lost industries.  As with clothes manufacturing in the UK becoming rarer and rarer, with the invention of disposable tissues a whole industry must have been lost.  These handkerchiefs were all made and embroidered in Switzerland so a whole industry in Switzerland must have all but disappeared.  It's a shame as they are exquisite and unlike tissues, last for years!!  I guess it just reinforces the fact that Betty Blue's Loungerie manufactures in the UK, is a really good thing!  The British garment manufacturing industry is beginning to grow as more and more UK designers make the decision to manufacture here.  Mary Portas would have us believe that she is single handedly bringing back UK manufacturing, but we know better.  Here is a list of awesome companies that make some, if not all of their clothing right here in the British Isles:

Betty Blue's Loungerie (of course!)
Kiss Me Deadly
Ayton Gasson
Made by Niki
Lascivious Lingerie
Lady K Loves
Boo Boo Kitty Couture
Tara Starlet
Miss Fortune

So don't let our garment industry go the way of the Swiss hankie industry!!!  Next time you are in Primarni PUT THE CHEAP TAT DOWN AND WALK AWAY ;-).  Like the pretty Swiss hankies; loungewear, lingerie and outerwear from the above companies will stand the test of time and last a lifetime.  Maybe in 60 or 70 years time your grandchildren will come across your collection of loungerie and find the items as captivating and beautiful as I find my Grandpa's handkerchiefs ;-).

Lots of Love
Betty xxx

1 comment:

  1. They are lovely! And I completely understand you not wanting to throw away such beautiful craftsmanship. Could they be worked in to some Betty Blue designs for a truly unique finish?
    LKL x