Cotton fabrics from India, with lively colors, arrive in the harbor of Marseille. These cotton fabrics strike the merchants with their incredible dyeing: every cleaning seemed to make the colors brighter.
The desire for these fabrics increased after the creation by Colbert of the East India Company in 1664. The rich bourgeois snatched these fabrics from each others hands, and Madame de Sévigné launched the fashion in the court of Louis XIV.
Colbert suppressed the taxes in the harbor of Marseille which gave easier access to import. The Indienneurs, supported by Armenian traders and technicians with proven expertise, opened workshops indiennages in Arles, Avignon and Nîmes. These workshops skills sharp and recognized export to Italy and Spain, and their production is spreading rapidly throughout France by the fair of Beaucaire.
These fabrics create excitement among the nobility, enthusiastic and fascinated by the colors, very alive. However, Colbert's death in 1683, and the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685, will undermine the prosperity of the market. In 1686 Louvois prohibit this emerging industry thinking preserve large French textile industries are linen, silk and wool. It not only prohibit the manufacture and marketing, but also the port of Indian across the kingdom of France.
Marseille tried to resist against that law, but in 1689 all the printing blocks in Marseille were officially broken on a public square. Many indiennes makers then moved to Avignon. It was a papal city where the prohibition wasn’t applied. Quelques indienneurs marseillais partent s'installer en Avignon, possession papale non concernée par l'édit royal, others flee to Switzerland and Germany.
The king understood the economical problems that his law caused . He soon announced that Marseille could produce, and use indiennes as well as sell them to other countries. However, the indiennes were still forbidden in the French kingdom, and the repression became stronger.
A law sentenced the smugglers to 3 years as galley slaves, and the smugglers who carried weapons would be sentenced to death. The Valence bandit Mandrin was a great Indian smuggler.
The Marseillan indiennes reached its zenith in 1754; there were almost fifteen factories in town. However the Seven Years War caused a deep economical crisis, and the minister Trudaine decided to re-open the national trade. The prohibition ended in 1759.
Unfortunately, the fiscal system and high wages caused a relocation of the Marseillan factories into Provence; this caused the development of indiennes making through the entire country. The secret of the famous factories was the endless invention of new decorative patterns.
Imports from India are heavily taxed and are gradually replaced by domestic production. These lightweight printed cottons, low cost, easy maintenance, floral patterns and bright colors invade France, but the Provencal market, that will always remain the most important, provençal making great use. Creating new patterns continue and will then become the key to the success of the most renowned manufacturers. The indiennes were in fashion again and were most popular in the 1790’s.
In 1806, Jean Jourdan created in the former convent of the Capucines located in the center of Tarascon, a factory on Indian-like fabrics called Manufacture Jourdan. This is the birth of Souleiado in Tarascon.
In 1821, he sold the convent to the town in attempt to solve his financial problems (the town turned it into a theater which still exists today). Jourdan moved his factory into the Aiminy mansion, and also, founded handkerchiefs factory in St Etienne du Grès.
His son Matthieu succeeded in 1840 and managed the factory until he died in 1882.
In 1882 the factory was managed by one of the last indiennes merchant, Paul Véran, who wanted to preserve a production site when so many factories had closed, one after the otheras well as when the people of Provence gave up their traditional outfit.
The Véran factory gathered its stock of designs and printing blocks, when other factories had closed. This includes blocks from the famous printer Foulc, in Avignon. When he died in 1916, the Véran manufacture was the last indienne maker in Provence. A chemist, Charles Henri Deméry, fell in love with the factory, and decided to save it. Thanks to Deméry, the factory survived and flourished.
When Deméry gave the company to his nephew Charles, there were 10 employees. Charles was a young engineer who came from Paris because he wanted to rest after falling sick. He fell in love with the factory and created the brand Souleiado in 1939 (Souleiado means “when the sun shines through the clouds after the rain" in Provence)
Hélène, Charles wife, a good seamstress, decides to create clothes out of the beautiful printed fabrics her husband produces. She unfortunately dies in a tragic car accident in 1950.
In 1947, a good customer, Ms. Vachon, implanted the first Souleiado products. The boutique in Saint-Tropez is the first of a long series. Nice and then follow the Baux de Provence. Souleiado will radiate in France and abroad.
In 1952 there were more than 300 employees through out 4 buildings: the hand printing in the Aiminy mansion, the mechanical printing in St Etienne du Grès, the sewing studios in Avignon (rue Thiers), and the administration in Tarascon. 80% of the items are exported to other countries. Souleiado is sold in Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s in New York City, but Zurich remains the biggest store. Many shops opened.
Charles Deméry marry Nicole Barra, a young model and stylist at Souleiado. She will lead the design office from 1952 to 1962 and will be at the origin of large collections of ready-to-wear Souleiado.
After a stagnant period in the 60’s, Souleiado revived in the 70’s when Chantal Thomass became the collection stylist. She embodied the Souleiado style of the 70’s. After that success, Souleiado started creating more than dresses, and became a luxury brand.
The workshop manual printing is unfortunately closed in 1977, under economic pressure triggered by the progress of mechanical printing.
When Charles Deméry died in 1986, Souleiado had 2000 point of sales around the world. Souleiado is part of the Colbert Committee and represent the colors of Provence. Malheureusement, les successeurs de Charles ne réussiront pas à conserver son héritage, et petit à petit SOULEIADO va s’endormir en son hôtel d’Aiminy autour d’un très beau musée devenu le témoin d’un riche passé.
Inauguration of the Charles Deméry Museum. Highlighting of Provençal culture, large collections of antique textiles, religious objects, paintings of Léo Lelée.
In april 2009, Daniel and Stéphane RICHARD, who were born in Provence, became directors of Souleiado. Their team started digging through the archives of drawings, printing blocks, and fabrics. It was a treasure hunt, the treasure of the Provence indiennes makers, a treasure that was 360 years old! Since then the sun shines through the rainy clouds. The souleiado is back!
The revival of Souleiado is accurate. New shops open (Aix, Avignon, Cassis, Arles). A new collection celebrates the love of the summer, with trendy or vintage models.
Souleiado now counts 14 stores and continues his comeback with a summer festival floral prints and graphics. It is also the opening of the first online shop.
With 20 stores - 18 in the South, one in Paris and one in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, 23 outlets in Japan including a store in Tokyo and own projects on the United States, Italy and Switzerland that Zurich was one of the most beautiful shops of the brand in the 1950s, SOULEIADO is back!
Souleiado open a brand new store in Southampton NY, USA - 44B Mainstreet.