Making art and science meet is no small accomplishment. But to travel half way across the world and show Los Angeles’ savvy garment trade where they have been going wrong — well, that takes the tenacity of a French man.
In ancient Greece, a young woman’s value was as closely tied to her ability to weave cloth, as was a young soldiers ability to wield a spear. The Roman Senate tried in vain to prohibit the wearing of silk, for economic reasons as well as moral ones. The import of Chinese silk resulted in vast amounts of gold leaving Rome, to such an extent that silk clothing was perceived as a sign of decadence and immorality.
For centuries, peoples desire for luxury goods, made the Chinese silk road a literal road to riches. Merchants bringing silk to Europe, eventually were responsible for the growth of new industries and technology that would change the face of the world. By the middle of the renaissance, European weavers, dyers and tanners transformed raw materials into colorful clothing helping to balance international trade deficits. By the industrial revolution, new looms and other technologies helped lower the cost of all goods to form the basis for today’s modern fashion trade. --After all, fashion has always been a way for people to display new wealth and position. What separated the most desirable clothing from homespun fabrics? Brilliant color!
Stains and dyes extracted from minerals plants and animal byproducts (like the mucus of the “banded dye murex,” a spiny shellfish exploited for centuries to the edge of extinction) have long been used to transform simple materials into highly sought after fashion goods. Today with our advanced knowledge of chemistry and biology, nearly anything is possible. Through it all, achieving spectacular color has always been a central part of fashion and the public’s desire to display their new wealth and station.
Fashion choices have expanded with each technical and economic development. Fueled by the creativity of young designers and advances in technology to expand the vistas of self-expression. Marc Boutayr is one such designer – A master of color- Part chemist, part designer, he is a wizard of modern Textiles. Its hard to imagine a school as difficult as the acclaimed Ecole supérieure des Techniques Industrielles et des Textiles, France. His advanced knowledge of the textile arts allow him to use natural enzymes to artfully make molecules do stuff they weren't planning to do. He can transform a fabric from stiff and coarse to silky and soft. He can open the warp and weave of each fiber strand to accept his color. Vibrant and true, his pigments go deep into fabric forming deep color-fast bonds.
Marc’s experience as a student at Ecole supérieure des Techniques Industrielles et des Textiles was only the start of his meteoric rise. Over 2000 design students apply each year and of those --barely a hand full are accepted. Of those that do, the education that they receive is so rigorous, that those numbers quickly dwindle. Marc’s education began with a rigorous training began with biology and chemistry, expanded to textile manufacturing processes and then moved on to cover the more nuanced aspects of design including draping, pattern making and of course, production technologies.
He was hand picked by scouts form Yves Saint Laurant and began developing his reputation as one of the finest dyers by developing signature colors for the famous fashion brand It was during his tenure at Yves Saint Laurant, that his skills blossomed. "I guess you could say I was different than other students." He said as he pours one of his special enzymatic recipes with a careful eye "They loved working with fabric. I loved it too, but I always wanted to push the boundaries... Do something fantastic that no one else had ever done before..." With a swirl and a sniff, he rejects the mixture and starts again. Getting the right mix is science, but skill and experience --relying on senses developed over decades is what makes him a genius.
He has since worked with some of the finest houses of Europe before moving to America. May Company, Limited and many others have benefited from his keen senses. But it wasn’t until he had set up his own textile company in Los Angeles that things really started to spark. "It hit me one day... I said, wow! Everybody is doing it wrong... We waste so much! That's when I began developing my special formulas and processes. - My recipes for success"
Its not just his skill with color that has made him a success. With a keen eye for business, he has also advanced eco-friendly production processes and waste cutting measures that go far beyond the norm. His work with the process of dying has cut production time by over a third on simple garments like colored tees, sweats and fashion items making him much sought after for those who require quick affordable production –without sacrificing the colors he loves so dearly.
But all these closely guarded secrets are nothing compared to the wizardry that is about to take place. Today his eye is on a bigger prize. Marc is ready to launch his own line of garments, different than anything on the market today. That is the foundation of the work he does at Premiere Apparel, a modest little shop in Vernon CA, a suburb of the city of Los Angeles. For years he has been behind the scenes, contributing to the success of many brands with his skills and expertise. Now it is time for him to step into the limelight. “People are going to go crazy! You'll see. Colors and shapes and textures you can't see anywhere else. They'll be equally popular in Beverly Hills and on the street. The detail, the colors... Its sick!"
He let me have a look at the new line, swearing me to secrecy. Edgy pattens and free flowing colors that seem to explode off the garment. Its hard to describe the detail with some garments looking like aged leather or marble or clouds... Its dizzying trying to imagine how all the pieces could be the result of one man's imagination. But if these new works of art are anything like the industry changing events from his past, the world had better watch out. The world is about to be turned on its ear. And Marc Boutayr is just the man to do it.