India and France bond over Silk at the Century old Oxford Bookstore

Celebrated French textile artist and author Ms. Isabelle Moulin launched ‘Impressions Indiennes’, her latest book dedicated to Indo-French relations through the prism of silk at the iconic 100-year-old Oxford Bookstore in Kolkata today.

A dimension to her visit is to work on bilateral cooperation between India and France around design and textile, with obviously a special emphasis on silk in India.

The event was presented by the Oxford Bookstore, Alliance française du Bengale, and Institut Français de New Delhi and was supported by the Crafts Council of West Bengal (CCWB). Noted author and journalist Sandip Roy hosted the engaging conversation.

For the past three years, Ms. Moulin has established a dialogue between the Silky Cities Network, the Lyon Metropolis, and the Bangalore Municipality to support and launch the city’s bid, and therefore India’s bid, in the Silk Cities network, the international network of cities, and the silk metropolises born in 2019 in Lyon, France.

Taking one step further Moulin is starting a reflection with the Crafts Council of West Bengal to help Murshidabad Silk and bristles from West Bengal better position themselves in the global market. “Silk is a living material and West Bengal has a rich silk tradition with varieties such as mulberry, tasar, eri and muga. The silk industry in West Bengal is mainly concentrated in Murshidabad and I am excited to learn more about Murshidabad Silk,” Ms. Moulin said while launching her book ‘Impressions Indiennes’ at the Oxford Bookstore in Park Street, Kolkata.

This marquee event also commemorated Oxford Bookstore’s century-old journey with books and bridging cultures through collaboration. “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much! The collaboration between Oxford Bookstore and the French book office is a booklovers & literature success story. Collaboration is multiplication. Since we started this cooperation with books launches, translation and support of the Romain Rolland prize, we developed a close relationship. Our teamwork began by trust, today our collaboration continues with deep friendship,” said Dr Christine Cornet, Attaché, Book, Debate and Ideas at Institutfrançais India, Embassy of France.

To celebrate the occasion, Oxford Bookstore, Kolkata offered ‘Silk me Back’ an opportunity to present its exclusive collection of Jacquard printed silk scarves, specially created and made in France and vibrant Bengal Silks courtesy Crafts Council of West Bengal and had a specially designed ‘Silk’ themed menu presented by Cha Bar.

In 2011, Ms. Moulin created the Silk me Back, an approach that closely combines heritage and contemporary expressions, combining scientific, technical, and artistic perspectives on the theme of silk and textiles. Her project is supported by the local government in Lyon, France.

Since 2015, Silk me Back has been publishing a “Silky Collection” combining artistic, scientific, and technical perspectives on the theme of silk. Books on silk in Japan and China have already been published.

No. 3-I as ‘Impressions Indiennes’ was designed following a silky mission organized by the French Institute of New Delhi and Jaipur in November 2019.

New Delhi, Lucknow, Varanasi, Jaipur, Punjab were the main stages of this mission which made it possible to carry out the photographic mission illustrating the work, to meet the contributors bringing their views and their expertise on the mutual silky French Indian inspirations, to initiate a program of exchanges of skills between universities and schools of Fashion and Design between the two countries.

The book based on an exchange between French and Indian designers was produced in record time, barely three months, in order to be able to be present in March 2020 at the Salon du Livre Paris which had been reserved as the primer of the diffusion, in accordance with the agreement signed between the Silk me Back and the Institut Français de New Delhi.

Apart from Kolkata, during her current visit to India, Ms. Moulin is covering cities like Mumbaï, Bangalore, Mysore, Jaipur, Kota, Khaitoon, Lucknow, New Delhi and is exploring several dimensions of silk including looking at Artificial Intelligence (AI) and fashion and explore how Silk is being used in AI and is giving it a separate dimension.

About Silk Me Back:

The Silk me Back is an artistic approach linking multiple contemporary expressions around the theme of silk. Initiated in 2011, this approach first explored these silky links between France and Japan, through a three-year project. Unrolling this thread even further, the Silk me Back is now available on various cultural projects, here and elsewhere.

In the course of these ten years, a vast network of contacts, but also of places, skills, and know-how has been formed, combining scientific, technical, and artistic perspectives in order to better understand the entire tree offered by a vector material: Silk.