Wesley Simpson scarves are one of my favorite things to collect. Simpson (1903-1975) was an American textile manufacturer who was responsible for bringing many artist-designed textiles to the market after World War II. World War II had an enormous impact on both the fashion industry and art market in America. First, it liberated American designers from simply making copies of Parisian couture. But it also allowed a new genre of artist to emerge, most of whom were in New York. Abstract expressionism was very popular right after the war. People had a renewed interest in the arts and the economic means to purchase. Artists hoped to capitalize on this, and teamed with textile producers to make fabrics and accessories. The marketing strategy was to bring art to everyday life.
You can only imagine my delight at finding this 1948 scarf by Simpson called Toile de Jouy,in my favorite color! The scarf tells the history of toile, an 18th century French scenic pattern usually printed on cotton, linen, or silk in one color on a light ground. It reads:
In 1784, Mr. Jean-Baptiste Huet, an artist employed by the Oberkampf works located near Jouy, France etched this design. This type of copperplate print, known as Toile de Jouy illustrates the various processes used in printing textiles.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art has a similar scarf in their collection. And the Vintage Traveler has the original ad from 1948. The ad reads:
Wesley Simpson presents a group of new scarfs from his collection of designs by famous artists. Included are scarfs by Marcel Vertes and Salvador Dali.
This is a great example of how various artists, with completely different styles, made an attempt to be more commercial after the war. (New to my site? You should take a look at my other posts on Wesley Simpson.) It seems especially fitting that the subject matter of this scarf is textile printing. Each vignette depicts a different stage of creating the toile print on fabric.