About The ’Fil de Bouche’ Pocket Squares
The Hanger Project is pleased to announce the availability of a new addition to our line of exquisite accessories. In much the same way that the discovery of the 18th century Russian reindeer hides from the sunken brigantine Metta Catharina off the English coast yielded an opportunity for gentlemen of distinction to acquire a rare bit of history, so too does a recent discovery from our friends at Simonnot Goddard in France.
But before waxing eloquent about the specifics of that discovery, a bit of history from the 14th century is in order.
In 1304, Batiste Cambrai, following a secret process, first succeeded in the making of linen fabric “as fine and delicate as a spider’s web.”
The weavers associated with Cambrai were called “mulquiniers” and they worked in the cellars of their homes, where the humidity had been seen to reduce some of the tension on the thread, making it easier to work with. Time went on, and the weavers found that – particularly when making handkerchiefs – the benefits of the humidity in their cellars could be increased by moistening the thread between their lips as they worked. As a consequence, the name ‘Fil de Bouche’ came to be applied to those delicate handkerchiefs.
But, in a pattern that repeats itself far too often in clothing and accessories, by the 18th century the production of these Fil de Bouche linen handkerchiefs had largely collapsed. The skilled work necessary to create linen on a handloom proved no match for the easier, cheaper industrial production of handkerchiefs made from cotton. By the 19th century, though Fil de Bouche handkerchiefs often made appearances – to high praise – at Universal Exhibitions in Europe, they had become rarities that only the highest of high society could afford. And by the 20th century, the cellar workshops in the North of France had all but closed, the looms abandoned, and the knowledge of how to create these iconic accessories lost to memory.
But recently our friends at Simonnot Godard discovered – in the firm’s archives – a quantity of Fil de Bouche linen pocket squares woven by hand by traditional “mulquiniers” in 1906. A small, very limited selection of these masterpieces is now being offered exclusively through The Hanger Project.
These linen pocket squares were literally hand woven in a bygone era yielding a finesse and delicacy that is no longer possible. The linen is finer than anything I have ever seen, and this includes the current production of Simonnot Godard (generally acknowledged as producers of linen at the highest end of the quality continuum.) These museum-quality pocket squares are masterpieces of a French textile tradition that is long extinct and how they survived over 100 years is a mystery. The opportunity to acquire one is literally “once in a lifetime”, so please don’t miss out on this chance to own your own little piece of sartorial history.
Simonnot Godard is widely regarded as the king of woven cotton and linen pocket squares. Plenty of people are capable of screen printing beautiful wool and silk pocket squares, but very few have mastered the techniques and highly-specialized skills of weaving and mercerizing required to produce masterpieces on the level of Simonnot Godard.
Indeed, Simonnot Godard has distinguished themselves in France and around the world since 1787, and now draw on their extensive archive to reinterpret beautiful woven and cotton pocket squares have for decades graced the shelves of some of the most famous French luxury brands, and over 200 of the world’s finest men’s stores. Simonnot Godard's portfolio of clients is a who's who of the best men's stores around the globe.
However, the Company's only pure online stockist is Kirby Allison’s Hanger Project, for which we are tremendously honored, feeling that this is a testimony to founder Kirby Allison's commitment to and appreciation of true artisanship.