From clothing to tableware, stripes are front and center

11 p.m., July 14, 2022

Suddenly the marinière, this must-have for chic summers, got a hit. In Stripes, a cultural history (Seuil, 2021), here is the historian Michel Pastoureau who reminds us of what everyone has forgotten: originally, striped clothing was used to distinguish the outcasts and the outcasts. “At the heart of the Western Middle Ages, the streak was pejorative”, explains the medievalist, who was the first to devote a book to this motif, not as smoothly as it seems. From the heretic to the leper, through the executioner and the prostitute, they were all decked out in striped clothing.

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A negative symbol inscribed in the collective unconscious? “My editor thought the subject was extravagant, even bizarre, smiled the historian. Titled The Devil’s Stuff, the first edition, in 1990, was a very small format with no image. Ultimately, it is one of my most translated books, in 42 languages! †

The success of the book, which has since been reissued and enhanced with illustrations, is the best proof that ‘scratched’ now rhymes with ‘success’. The pattern has made its revolution: “From the 18th century, next to the bad stripe, a good stripe appeared, adds Michel Pastoureau. A sign of freedom and later of leisure, it was widely used in sports, on the beach and in summer clothes. The contemporary stripe appeared in the 1950s.” Until it became a must in our wardrobes (the sailor top) but also, and perhaps especially, in our house.

Classic and timeless

This summer, the stripes will be on display at Monoprix (Casa Cubista tableware), Habitat (crockery and garden furniture), Maisons du Monde (Lisa Gachet collection), (household linen), Bonsoirs (bed linen). In a deluxe version, here it’s classic but chic: Taillardat furniture (a French manufacturer whose creations furnish many palaces), Longwy enamel or Pierre Frey fabrics (whose Malmaison model takes over the stripe of a tent used by Napoleon for his military campaigns).​

Some brands have made it their signature. Out of pragmatism, for the Swedish Lina Rickardsson, founder of the carpet company Pappelina: “Our first rugs had straight lines like stripes, because we couldn’t weave otherwise”, reveals the stylist. The evolution of looms, specific to the washable plastic used for these carpets, now allows her to choose other patterns, but the designer has kept the stripe in her collections: “Classic and easy to combine with other designs, it never really goes out of style. I like this simplicity. †

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In a more French register, it is also an emblem of Maison Sarah Lavoine: “When I started, I used bands of color to underline, delineate and structure spaces. explains the designer. I often use them in threes: the chosen color, black and white, with the latter accentuating the other two. These colorful trios have become one of my signatures. † His advice for integrating it into your home? “You shouldn’t be afraid of it. It can be used as a touch to start: the stripe on a pillow, a throw or on curtains is a nice graphic touch that is not very captivating. For the more adventurous, we play on the walls, a door, a hallway, a ceiling. Placed properly, it makes it possible to enlarge a room, emphasize an architectural detail or, on the contrary, make flaws disappear. †

An opinion that Michel Pastoureau confirms. He says he shares a passion for two-tone stripes with his friend Jean-Charles de Castelbajac. The stylist and historian love the alternation of white stripes and a different color. “It immediately gives elegancesays the medievalist, who likes to wear the marinière. I am a very old gentleman and I win ten years! † Picasso understood that too: he often wore striped clothes and proclaimed loud and clear that to paint well, you “stretch your ass”† In short, an artist “totally ruined”† Funny language? Yes, but especially the proof that the scratch is indeed everywhere. Also lexical.

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