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In the late 1930s Charles Demery purchased a cotton printing workshop in the town of Tarascon in the Provence region of France. He dubbed his new enterprise Souleiado, which means “the sun’s rays shining through a cloud after a rain”. While the brand was new, the print shop was not. Under various names the workshop had produced colorful printed chintz and calico fabrics, known as indiennes, since the middle of the 18th century.

When Demery took over the print shop he acquired more than 40,000 wooden print blocks, many of which were the original blocks used in the 18th and 19th centuries. Initially Souleiado cottons were printed by hand but by the 1950s the fabrics were in such high demand in France that the company began to transition to mechanized production. Demery continued to rely on his archive of antique print blocks but the patterns, complete with the original imperfections in the blocks, were transferred to engraved copper rollers. Machine printing allowed Souleiado to increase output and facilitated the company’s development of a wide range of sportswear and household textiles. Through at least the 1980s they also produced small batches of hand-printed fabrics but at much higher price points than their machine printed products.

In the early 1960s Souleiado dresses arrived at a few American department stores including Bloomingdales and Stix, Baer, and Fuller. Within a decade their items could also be found in a handful of American boutiques. In the mid-1970s the company’s presence in the United States increased when their products arrived in Pierre Deux, a national chain of retail stores that specialized in French antiques and imports. The Souleiado brand was sold in the US exclusively through Pierre Deux until 1995.

In the 1980s Souleiado was embraced by the fashion-buying public as a chic symbol of luxury. Lady Diana Spencer was a fan of the brand and was photographed by the press while carrying a Souleiado Provencal print cotton bag. As of 2022 a version of the bag carried by Diana was still available on Souleiado’s website.

Souleiado was a family-run company for more than sixty years. The Demerys sold the business in 2000. It changed hands again in 2009 when it was purchased by Daniel and Stephane Richard who continue to produce Provencal prints inspired by the company’s extensive archive.

Written by Jennifer Binns of Hollie Point Vintage

from a 1960s dress - Courtesy of Silverymoonvintage55

from a 1960s dress

Courtesy of Silverymoonvintage55

from a 1970s skirt - Courtesy of Hollie Point Vintage

from a 1970s skirt

Courtesy of Hollie Point Vintage