Christopher Moore⁠—The Toile man talks about his journey into textiles

JUN 26, 2019 | By Christopher Moore
CLOCKWISE, FROM TOP LEFT Christopher Moore and his works.

I came to England in 1970 from my native Zimbabwe to study textile design, but it was not until 1988 that I set up my shop specialising in antique 18th. century toiles de Jouy, (copperplate printed textiles.) I sold many historic pieces to textile manufacturers but was disappointed with the quality of the reproductions, so decided to try printing a few myself and to concentrate on recreating the look and feel of the originals. I always want my reproductions to look as if they might be a piece of original 18th century cloth that just happens to have survived and worn very well.

Through a serendipitous introduction, I met Rajeshwar Singh, a quilt manufacturer who kindly invited me to India and I have been here ever since! I had arrived in textile heaven. One of my first discoveries was khadi. For someone who was after authentic handwoven cloth, this was a revelation. I started by printing a few “Indiennes”, as the 18th. century Indian-inspired floral fabrics were known in France. The number of designs soon grew, but in those early days I was only visiting India, and inevitably problems started to occur doing it all long distance.

My trips grew longer until one day I realised that I enjoyed the Indian end of the business more than being in a shop in London. Current projects include ikats, a collection of indigo-dyed block prints, and a range of block-printed fabrics taken from an album of original artwork that is over two hundred years old. I am always impressed with the skills and the dedication of Indian textile craftsmen and women, and their desire to keep these artisanal skills alive. For me, it is both a privilege and a responsibility to be a tiny part of the amazing world heritage that is Indian textiles.