French fancies: Garnier-Thiebaut

I don’t know about you but I love crisp, white, high thread count bed linen and fluffy white towels. Hotels’ laundry takes a bit of a hammering so I’m always keen to see which brands they use. It’s often a French brand called Garnier-Thiebaut!

With roots dating back to 1833 in France, Garnier-Thiebaut has become known as the designer and manufacturer of the highest quality table linens, bed linens, and accessories for the finest hotels, restaurants, casinos, clubs, and homes around the world.

Garnier-Thibeaut has pioneered many of the textile industry’s design and technology inventions for the production of fine linens. Today, the company’s manufacturing facility in Gerardmer, France is Europe’s most advanced centre for the design, colour and production of fashion fabrics — notably, table linens, bed linens and other textile accessories — for the hospitality industry and the home. Renowned for its luxurious damask designs, Garnier-Thiebaut is the only fine linens company that produces more than two complete collections each year.

Printemps-Été 2022 : les tendances linge de lit

Now part of the HDM Finance group, a family owned business since 1723, operated by its 13th generation. HDM is one of the biggest textile groups in Europe for the hospitality industry comprising a number of companies, though Garnier-Thiebaut is the only company in the group with a retail division.

How it all began

1833: Like many beautiful stories, Garnier-Thiebaut’s journey begins with the wedding celebration of two linen merchants, namely Virginie Thiébaut and Jean-Baptiste Garnier in 1833 who gave birth to Garnier-Thiebaut in Gerardmer, a beautiful French village built around a lake.

The water in the region was ideal to whiten the linen and made it the perfect place for textile companies to flourish. Soon Garnier-Thiebaut was renowned for its strong and bright products and kept developing through constant innovation.

The factory is destroyed by WWII bombing in 1944 and it took five years for the plant to rise from its ashes and the looms to buzz again.

The heirs of Garnier-Thiebaut decide to sell the family company in 1969 which retained its name and soul despite the successive changing of hands.

There was a sea change in the company in 1995 when its then CEO, Paul de Montclos, decided to enter the retail market. As part of his expansionary plans, Garnier-Thiebaut USA was created in New York in 1997. Further acquisitions followed, particularly in the US, whose HQ is now based in Arlington, VA. Subsequent CEOs have continued his vision and the company’s success.

Sustainability

The company has done much to improve its effect on the environment.

Métier à tisser Garnier-Thiebaut

1. It uses the heat generated by its looms to heat the offices.

2. Its manufacturing capabilities are based in the heart of the Vosges forest which it is are committed to maintain by minimising consumption and waste.

3. The bees on our dyeing site are proof of the quality of the company’s environment.

4. The factories have their own purification station so that the water discharged into local rivers is always clean.

5. The company’s own water turbine produces much of the electricity it uses.

6. The company is committed to keeping jobs in France and promoting the Vosges region.

7. The company has created a 100% plant based detergent to help its customers and employees take care of our environment too.

Silent Sunday #108

It’s Sunday and today’s photo is from ma belle France.

The Musette: Padron peppers

A Spanish classic, these blistered little peppers offer an unbridled taste of sunshine on a plate and can be cooked from scratch in an instant. It’s hardly a recipe but it’s certainly one of our favourites once the peppers become available. It’s a dish best eaten with one’s fingers. Just watch out for the occasional spicy hot one!

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 250g (9 oz) padron peppers
  • juice 1/2 organic lemon
  • sprinkle sea salt

Method

1.Place a large frying pan over a high heat and add the olive oil. Once shimmering hot, tip in the padron peppers and cook for 3-5 minutes, tossing regularly, until blistered all over.

Padron peppers

2. Squeeze over the lemon juice, add a big pinch of sea salt and transfer to a serving platter. Enjoy as part of a larger array of tapas dishes, or alone with an ice-cold glass of sherry or txakoli.

 

 

One from the vaults: Postcard from San Sebastian – 2016 City of Culture

Tomorrow there’s the  2022 edition of the Klasikoa in San Sebastián, a race I love seeing live. This year sadly, once again, I’ve resigned myself to watching it on television. Here’s what happened back in 2016.

Typically, our visit to the Clasica San Sebastian forms part of a longer trip but occasionally, like this year, we fly down. In the past we’ve flown to Bordeaux and hired a car. This year my beloved decided we would fly to San Sebastian (via Madrid) and stay in the centre, close to all the action. He booked the flight back in March and gave me the confirmations which I filed in chronological order in my big fat holiday file.

On the Sunday before we were due to depart for our five-day trip to San Sebastian, I took out the confirmation of our flight booking to check the luggage allowance. When I  entered my name plus the booking reference into the Iberia site, it advised me that no such reference existed on the system. Alarm bells started to ring. My beloved undertook a mercy dash to the airport to resolve the issue – several months in the dog house and complete removal of privileges at stake. He returned with a contact number and was put through immediately to an extremely helpful gentleman who obviously didn’t work in their call centre.

It appears that the bank rejected the payment despite more than adequate funds and my beloved correctly inputting the magic bank code he received on his mobile. We can only conclude that because he booked and paid for another Iberia flight, the bank willfully decided to reject one of them. We were blissfully unaware because we had a flight confirmation number. Fortunately, the man from Iberia was able to restore our booking – phew!

I had booked a room in a recently opened 10-bedroomed pension a few steps from the beach and the Old Town which was an ideal location and, thanks to triple glazed windows, blissfully quiet. It had everything you need in a hotel bedroom, nothing you didn’t, and all at a great price. I’ve already booked it again for next year’s race and given it a glowing endorsement on Booking.com.

Apart from watching the race, our intention was to further explore San Sebastian. Even though we’ve been here a number of times, we’ve not seen everything or even eaten in all of its wonderful bars and restaurants. Our days were spent walking along the beach and around the town, visiting its monuments, watching the race, sampling some old favourites and some new restaurants and pintxos (tapas) bars.

The hotel had an arrangement with an excellent nearby neighbourhood bar for breakfast, that also served some fabulous pintxos and local specialities, before deciding how to spend our day. The weather was better either side of the week-end and I like nothing better than strolling along the La Concha beach with my tootsies in the wet sand. The beach tends to be more crowded closer to San Sebastian’s Alderdi-Eder Park but there’s plenty of room further along or you can enjoy the extension of La Concha, in Ondarreta. Alternatively, if you like surfing, head to the beach the other side of the Urunea river, the Zurriola. So that’s three beaches to bronze on, swim, build sand castles, or whatever takes your fancy.

One morning we walked the full length of two of the beaches to enjoy the civic sculptures at either end: Construccion Vacia by Jorge Oteiza and Peine del Viento by Chillida and Pena Ganachegui. Of course, had we been so inclined,we could have hired bikes and cycled on San Sebastian’s many bidegorris (bike lanes). We also walked up and along two of the town’s three hills: the Igueldo overlooking Ondarreta beach and Urgull overlooking the fishing port.

Saturday was spent watching the Clasica, one of my favourite one-day races which we first saw live back in 2010. While the organisation of the race and indeed the route is much improved, much stays the same including the enthusiasm of the fans. Many ex and current professional riders also come en famille to see the race. It’s just that kind of event. We spotted a number of teams the day before riding around and soaking up the sights and sounds. It’s a popular post-Tour race and generally won by a rider who’s shown good form in the Tour.

Sunday we’d set aside to explore the San Telmo Museum which includes a beautiful 16th century Dominican convent, decorated with canvasses illustrating the most important events in Basque history, among its many exhibition spaces. Aside from its temporary exhibitions, the museum presents an attractive journey to the very heart of Basque society from its origins to present day. The entrance fee is only Euros 6 and you get a Euro 2 reduction on a drink and a pintxos in the attached café San Telmo which has an excellent restaurant. I speak from experience.

Talking of restaurants, we’d booked to visit an old favourite Gandarias, in the Old Town, which also has an adjoining pintxos bar but sadly Kokotxa was fully booked for lunch and dinner – next time. On previous trips we’ve eaten at some of the many Michelin starred establishments but we’ve never eaten badly anywhere in the Basque country. Just follow your eyes and nose and you won’t go wrong.

We also had a wander around the town’s two markets in La Brexia and San Martin. Given half a chance I’d have brought back lots of Basque goodies but there was only so much space in my luggage. And while we’re on the subject of luggage, mine is currently still unaccounted for. My beloved’s turned up the following day but they’ve yet to establish the whereabouts of mine. I can only conclude it’s ticking off a few places on its bucket list. Meanwhile, I’m holding onto the thought that airlines rarely lose baggage, just misplace it for a while. But, just in case, I’ve already prepared a detailed list of its contents and their value.

Friday postscript: According to Iberia’s missing luggage tracker, they have tracked down a Tumi they think might be my missing bag.

Monday postscript: My bag’s back, no idea where it’s been, but am very grateful for its return.

Thursday doors #161

Here are more doors from our most recent trip to the East Coast.

Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favourite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post each week and then sharing your link in the comments’ on Dan’s site, anytime between Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American Eastern Time).

Postcard from Washington DC: Part II

I’ve spread our meanderings over three posts and in today’s we’re heading for The Mall where many of Washington’s museums are grouped though I appear to have failed to capture pictures of all of them – probably mesmerised by all those Doric columns!

National Gallery of Art

The two buildings on either side of 4th Street NW are the National Gallery of Art.  An underground walkway connects them. The east building displays modern and contemporary art in both permanent and temporary exhibitions. The west building houses artwork from 11 – 19th  centuries. The sculpture garden to the north across 7th Street NW features large-scale works of modern sculpture. It is a great place to take a break.

Smithsonian Museums on the Mall

The Smithsonian was established by James Smithson, an English scientist who willed part of his estate to the United States for the increase and diffusion of knowledge. The Smithsonian is the world’s largest museum complex with over 150 million artifacts held in trust for the American people.

The Smithsonian’s Visitor Centre is housed in the Smithsonian Castle which was completed in 1855 and was the first Smithsonian museum.  The crypt in the castle’s north tower holds Smithson’s remains. Originally buried in Genoa Italy, his remains were moved here in 1904. Interestingly, while alive, Smithson never visited the United States.

Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M Sackler Gallery

Freer Gallery of Art

These galleries showcase the power and grace of Asian art and its ability to reflect culture. Combined they are the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art. The collections have more than 40,000 objects from the Ancient East, Asia, and the Islamic world.

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

The Hirshhorn displays international modern and contemporary art. The exhibits change regularly and highlight major artists and trends. The sculpture garden across Jefferson Drive has works by Auguste Rodin, Henry Moore and even Yoko Ono.

National Museum of the American Indian

The museum’s collection of Native American arts and artifacts is (unsurprisingly) one of the world’s most extensive. It covers over 12,000 years of history and includes all major cultural areas in the Americas.

National Museum of Natural History

It is unclear who initially owned the Hope Diamond or where it was found though it is believed to have been mined in India in the early 1600s. This museum featured in the 2006 film ‘Night at the Museum’.

National Museum of American History

The Philadelphia was one of the gunboats built by Benedict Arnold in 1776 to fight the British during the American War of Independence. This museum is devoted to all aspects of the growth of America, showcasing everything from Washington’s military uniform and Jefferson’s portable desk to Dorothy’s Wizard of Oz ruby slippers.

National Museum of African American History and Culture

The newest Smithsonian museum’s architecture stands out on the mall. It’s the only national museum focusing exclusively on African American life, art, history and culture, starting from the Transatlantic Slave Trade of the 1400’s to the defining moments of the 1960’s.

Our meanderings continue into next week……

 

Wordless Wednesday #128

Wednesday is devoted to photos from Australia taken on one of my many #adventuresdownunder.

Postcard from Washington DC: Part I

With time at a premium in Washington, aside from visiting the Library of Congress, we just generally walked around the city looking at all its monuments, parks and civic splendours, roughly following a walking map I found online (below).  

Washington DC, the US capital, is an interesting albeit compact city. Its museums, important buildings and memorials are all set in parkland on the banks of the Potomac River. Consequently, it’s easy to walk around. It’s what you might call a planned city, designed as the seat of government over 200 years ago. Its core is the triangle created by the US Capitol, the White House and The Mall, known as Federal Triangle.

Washington DC Walking Map

Memorial Parks and the National Mall

The memorials are listed below roughly in the order we found them as we walked in a counter-clockwise direction. The loop from the Washington Monument to all the memorials is only about 5km (3 miles). The distance around the rectangle called “The Mall” between the Washington Monument and the US Capitol is a similar distance. Many of the Smithsonian Museums are on The Mall along with the National Gallery of Art.

Washington Monument

The Washington Monument stands  170 metres (555 feet) tall and is our perfect first stop to get an overall view of the area. The original steam powered elevator took 10-12 minutes to reach the top. I consider that a much better option than climbing the 896 steps to the top. The monument’s stones are two different colours illustrating he two phases of construction. When completed in 1884, it was the tallest building in the world.

World War II Memorial

National World War II Memorial | Washington DC

Dedicated in 2004, the stunning memorial is made of white marble. It honours the sacrifices of both the American people at home, supporting the war effort, and the 16 million who served overseas.  The Freedom Wall’s gold stars commemorate the more than 400,000 Americans who gave their lives in the war.

On the west side of the memorial is the Freedom Wall of 4,048 gold stars. Each star represents 100 Americans who died in the war. Under each of the Pacific and Atlantic pavilions four eagles carry an oak laurel wreath. Between the pavilions are 56 pillars, one for each US state and territory.

Constitution Gardens

Photos at Constitution Gardens - Garden in Washington

 

The lake in Constitution Gardens is about the size of 6 US football fields. This 50-acre garden and lake, a bicentennial project, commemorates American independence.  A monument, on the island in the middle of the lake, honors the 56 signatories of the American Constitution. Military headquarters buildings occupied this spot until the 1970s.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Vietnam Veterans Memorial | Bailey Dowlin Art

Two black-granite walls, each about 76 metres (250 ft) long, form a “V”. The names of the more than 58,000 men and women who gave their lives or remain missing are etched into the walls in the order they died or disappeared. The walls point to the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument. This sombre subtle memorial was dedicated in November 1982.

Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln memorial in Washington DC, USA

Dedicated in 1922, this memorial to the 16th US President is housed in huge Greek temple. Each of its 38 columns is 13 metres (44 ft) tall and 2 metres (7.5 ft) across. Inside the memorial is the above statue of Abraham Lincoln. His famous Civil War Gettysburg Address and his second inaugural speech are engraved on the north and south walls. While there’s an engraving on the monument’s steps noting the spot where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963 overlooking the reflecting pool.

Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool

Washington DC: Washington Monument and Reflecting Pool fro… | Flickr

Constructed in 1922/23, the pool is 610 metres (2,000 ft) long and 50 metres (165 ft) wide.

Korean War Veterans Memorial

Korean War Veterans Memorial, Washington - DC | Roadtrippers

Dedicated in 1995, the memorial commemorates the sacrifices of 5.8 million American service members during the Korean War (1950 to 1953). On the walkway between the mural wall and the advancing soldiers are markers listing the 22 nations who provided troops to the United Nations efforts. There are nineteen stainless steel foot soldiers, in full battle gear. They advance through Juniper bushes separated by granite strips representing the rice paddies of Korea. The figures showcase both the various branches of the armed forces and the ethnic cross section of America. The reflective wall beside the statues is 50 metres (164 ft) long. The etchings on the wall are from hundreds of photos from the war.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

brown concrete statue during daytime photo – Free Usa Image on Unsplash

Two blocks of granite called the Mountain of Despair flank a 9 metre (30 ft) tall sculpture of MLK whose quotes are inscribed on the walls around the memorial. It was dedicated in 2011, the 48th anniversary of the August 1963 “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom”.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial

Best Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial Tours & Tickets - Book Now

This is a unique memorial to the longest-serving (four-terms) US president (1933 to 1945). The two-term limit for US Presidents became law shortly after his death.

Thomas Jefferson Memorial

Thomas Jefferson Memorial Statue Photo stock - Image du célèbre, blanc: 69267428

The bronze statue of Jefferson in the open air rotunda depicts him holding the Declaration of Independence in his hand. The memorial honours the third president, drafter of the Declaration of Independence and founder of the University of Virginia.  Dedicated in 1943, its design resembles his library at the university.

Ulysses S Grant Memorial 

You cannot miss the statue of General Ulysses S Grant on his war horse at the east end of The Mall.  Dedicated in 1922, the memorial honours the Civil War general and 18th US president.

Our perambulations continue tomorrow…..

Musical Monday: Lauryn Hill

While writing about last week’s artist John Legend, I realised that I had seen Lauryn Hill twice, once as part of The Fugees and again as a solo artist.

Lauryn Noelle Hill (1975 – ) is an American singer, rapper, songwriter and actress. She is often regarded as one of the greatest rappers of all time,as well as being one of the most influential musicians of her generation. Hill is credited for breaking barriers for female rappers, popularizing melodic rapping and for bringing hip hop and neo soul to popular music. She is known for being a member of The Fugees and her solo album The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill (1998), which became one of the best-selling albums of all-time. Hill has won many accolades, including eight Grammy Awards, the most by a female rapper to this day.

Hill starred in the film Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit (1993). She later formed the group The Fugees, alongside Pras Michel and his cousin Wyclef Jean. The group released two albums, including The Score (1996); which spawned the hit single Killing Me Softly, with Hill on lead vocals. It won the Grammy Award for Best Rap Album, making her the first woman to win the award. Her tumultuous relationship with Jean led to the split of the band in 1997, soon after she began work on her solo album.

Hill’s sole solo studio album The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill (1998) was released to widespread acclaim. It contains the songs “Ex-Factor” and “Lost Ones”. It debuted at No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard 200, with the highest first-week sales for a debut album by a woman in the 20th century. The lead single “Doo Wop (That Thing)” debuted at No. 1 on the BillboardHot 100, and made her the first artist to have debuted at No. 1 on both the Billboard 200 and Hot 100 with their first entries, as well as the first female rapper to have reached No. 1 on each chart.

At the 41st Grammy Awards, Hill set a record for the most nominations in one night for a woman, with ten; while winning five awards including Album of the Year, becoming the first hip hop artist to win the award. The album was later selected for the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry. Ultimately she dropped out of the public eye, dissatisfied with the music industry and suffering from the pressures of fame. In 2002, Hill released the new-material live album MTV Unplugged No. 2.0, which was certified platinum by the RIAA.

Hill’s subsequent activity has included festival appearances and periodically releasing songs. In 2015, Billboard ranked her seventh on their “10 Best Rappers of All Time” list, with Hill being the only woman on the list. Consequence of Sound named her one of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time. Hill has earned several Guinness World Records, including one for being the first female rapper to earn a Diamond-certification by RIAA. She has appeared on Rolling Stone‘s 500 Greatest Songs and Albums list, as a soloist and a member of the Fugees. Hill has received the NAACP’s President’s Award, and has been inducted into the Black Music & Entertainment Walk of Fame.

French Fancies: L’Éclaireur

A bit like last week’s post, Paris is full of surprising shops. Here’s another one!

Located behind a huge black door, only Parisians with a keen sense of fashion know this address since there is no other indication that it exists. Considered the first concept store within the city, L’Eclaireur set new trends with its carefully curated collection of creative pieces.

Long before the term concept store was ever used, Martine and Armand Hadida invented the very idea – fusing fashion, accessories, design, art and culinary chic into a series of surprise retail packages.

How it all began

Their history began back in 1972 on the Champs-Elysées, when a teenage Martine began working Saturdays in a boutique to earn pocket money, and met a young man called Armand Hadida, who managed a nearby store.

Eight years later, after they had saved enough for a lease and the initial stock, they realized their dream – opening up the first L’Éclaireur boutique on the famous avenue; with looks by Marithé et François Girbaud in the debut window; and clothes by Moschino and Vivienne Westwood inside the underground store.

Edito-Sevigne-une

Born in Settat, Morocco, a city south of Casablanca, Hadida discovered fashion and his future métier as a merchant working as a chauffeur doing deliveries. From the beginning he and Martine wanted to mark out their terrain as distant from the dominant ’70s designers with their structured style – Mugler, Montana, Alaïa and Gaultier.

We had to take a different path; a new aesthetic with a twist. To be culturally different and avant-garde, not followers.

Plus, they “discovered” black – from Yohji or Comme des Garçons; and then met the Belgians – Ann Demeulemeester, Dries Van Noten and Martin Margiela – in London, a now-seminal moment in fashion history in 1986 when a group of six Belgian designers trooped over to a London fashion salon, causing a massive sensation with rule-breaking use of fabrics, ethnic influences, street styling and emotion.

Trained as a window dresser, Martine scoured Paris for ideas for her multiple mise-en-scènes, like culling a campaign from outdoor specialist Vieux Camper to creating a whole rural setting for one Girbaud collection. And developing a blend of accessories and fashion, back when these categories were largely separated, becoming the first retailers to bring Timberland, Topsiders and Tod’s to France.

The couple then stretched the retail concept further with a ground breaking, award-winning  store on the Rue des Rosiers in my beloved Marais, showing designs by future stars barely out college – Marc Newson, Tom Dixon and Ron Arad.

All told, the family have had eight different locations, later handing them over to favoured friends, like their art space in Palais Royale, which is now Rick Owens’ global flagship.

The couple explained that in the beginning it was not easy. Many customers didn’t accept their mix of ideas. It almost irritated them that there were fine objects next to clothes. And when they added Bulthaup kitchens in the Marais, and invited Alain Ducasse to cook, it really drove them crazy. ,

Martine and Armand also turned heads with their next concept – a gallery located in Saint-Ouen, Paris’ most famous flea market – causing immense consternation among the local antique traders.

The family even expanded briefly abroad, and still has a gallery run by daughter Meryl on North Robertson in Los Angeles, named L’Éclaireur – a French play on two ideas: lighting the way and illuminated thinking. I say “family” because the business is now run by their son Michaël.

Michaël sees his goal as creating a community for L’Éclaireur, which has been the ultimate insider retailer. With the brand’s recently refreshed website, Michaël has added a team of high-powered personal shoppers and a sleeker display of the company’s special product mix – from avant-garde fashion, and over 140 fashion labels from Fornasetti ceramics and Carlo Moretti crystal; to Stella McCartney blankets and Werkstatt: München silver platters. It’s a veritable treasure trove and just the sort of place I love!

Our challenge is to tell the story of L’Éclaireur and explain our savoir-faire. Via the web, we can invite ourselves into people’s home and introduce our personal shoppers.

This allows online clients to organise individual rendez-vous with each store’s expert retailers.

At one stage L’Éclaireur branched out and acquired the Paris-based trade show Tranoï for young and fledgling designers, but ultimately shuttered that. And if Michaël is bullish about retail, he is gloomy about trade shows.

Just as well, he now has a state-of-the-art site to lead L’Éclaireur into its next four decades.

Images courtesy of l’Eclaireur