A fabric with complex motifs which owes its name to the automatic loom used for its production, itself conceived in Lyon in 1801 in the workshops of Joseph-Marie Jacquard. A unique combination of three previous innovations (Basile Bouchon’s perforated paper tape, Jean-Baptiste’s continuous loop of perforated cards and Jacques Vaucanson’s cylinder, also perforated), the Jacquard loom revolutionised the sector and was capable of doing the work of five people. A development deemed unpopular by competitors (the famous Lyon weavers known as the “canuts”) who rose up in 1831 and tried to destroy Jacquard’s machines by striking them with clogs (sabots in French). But while we might owe the word “sabotage” to the canuts’ revolt, the industrialists chose to support Jacquard and his loom took the place of other older techniques. A predecessor to the computer (because the perforated cards are programmable), the Jacquard loom has today grown considerably and now produces almost all patterned fabrics used for clothing, furnishings and domestic linens.
The empress of noble fabrics, whose trade secret was jealously guarded by the Chinese for over 2500 years, silk is the only natural textile fibre whose thread is continuous. It is taken from the cocoon of the Bombyx Mori caterpillar, also called the silkworm, and its appearance varies according to the way it is woven or worked.