March 5, 2015
Luxury Linen Showroom, de Le Cuona
Weaving a Global Network of Showrooms From A First Passion For Linen, Bernie de Le Cuona Makes A High-Style Statement Worldwide
by Karen Lehrman Bloch photographer De Le Cuona
LADY OF THE CLOTH
Bernadette (Bernie) de Le Cuona embodies a sense of contrast. Born on a game farm in Pretoria, South Africa, de Le Cuona was an archetypal ranch girl who now has fabric showrooms in London, Moscow, and in the D&D Building. After falling in love with the linen shops of Brussels, she eventually launched her own fabric line in 1992; her fabrics became so popular with interior designers she was eventually dubbed the Queen of Linen. The brand now also works with silk velvets, cotton paisleys, and cashmeres and has an accessories and furniture line; a bespoke cushion collection is available at Barneys.
Working with the most skilled craftspeople and hand-picked mills worldwide, de Le Cuona has led the way with stone-washed linens, embossed linens, and the use of tonal wool yarns to add a special dimension to unique embroideries. "There is so much fabric available but not a lot of really splendid fabrics," says de Le Cuona. "Color and the finishing technique can make or break a cloth."
De Le Cuona fabrics typically marry historical designs and techniques with needs of today. "I like to use traditional weaving with contemporary or surprising color choices and then give the fabric a twist like embossing with ancient rollers," she explains. "The looms we use are ancient even though it means we can only weave three meters a day. We manage to achieve a dimension and depth no modern machines can capture."
Her two latest collections, Wild Tranquility and Stormy Serenity, are also lessons in contrast. The palette of Wild Tranquility, a collection of seven fabrics, is inspired by the rich shades of Italian frescoes and the chalky tones of Gesso painting. Stronger tones are tempered by softer textures. Stormy Serenity is a contemporary twist on her favorite cashmeres, velvets, paisleys, and linens. "I travel the world finding the best techniques to bring these designs to life. Whether it be hand washing and drying in the sun, stone washing with pumice stones and golf balls, or embossing and hand embroidery, nothing is too much trouble in the search for the perfect finish."
What's next? Reinventing designs originally woven of light cotton in the Congo on heavy linen-wool combinations.