Holiday Table Linen

By Suzy Gershman
The French are firm believers in ‘les arts de la table', the arts of the table, which accentuate the importance of the food and make a meal a memory by catering to all the senses. You can buy books on the subject; French women often attend fairs or seminars—the competition for a fine looking table is fierce, especially during holiday season. As the winter holidays come round, festive table settings are featured in all the magazines.

Galeries Lafayette has table linen with Christmas and New Year's themes, as well as their regular selections; shelves are bulging with choices at this time of year. Christmas linens tend to be red and green, or specifically themed to the holiday, while New Year's means gold or silver or lush champagne hues of beige and cream. Most of the tabletop accessories are sold from the basement level (sous sol) of Galeries Lafayette, but holiday table linen is also sold from the linen department on the fourth floor. There is also an exhibit of holiday tables at the edge of the table linen department, near where blankets are sold—meant to inspire the shopper and/or hostess.

Just about every maker of everyday linen has either linen specifically created for the holiday or patterns that lend themselves to the season—such as the red and green printed ‘Forestier' print from Les Olivades, which is a deep rich ruby red and forest green print that feels like Christmas but actually has nothing whatsoever which is Christmas-y about it. Anne de Solene is best known for her jacquard linens; she has several dressy choices with a few on promotional offers which have been chosen as New Year's suggestions or for those who like an elegant and understated Christmas table. Because the French invented the jacquard loom—which allows a pattern to be stitched into a woven cloth through a design worked out mathematically on a card—many firms sell jacquard patterns.

The most famous status brand is perhaps Jacquard Francaise, but many houses have the style and price points vary. Because they do not fade as prints do, jacquards are a local favorite. Nydel is the mass-market version of Jacquard Francaise—the Bolero pattern has fruits and grapes dancing across the border and comes in a variety of subtle shades. Garnier Thiebault is known for jacquards in bright colors and even has a new year's print of exploding champagne bottles. Jacquard Francaise has a print called Dimanche a Megeve, which is a ski print of winter charm without religious overtones, it's not dissimilar from the design Jean-Charles Castelbajac has created for the holiday gift bags at Galeries Lafayette, proving this to be the “in” design statement of the season.

When it comes to traditional French prints on table linen, no one does silk screens better than Beauville which has almost one dozen different holiday choices, some with winter themes, others directed at Christmas or even religious designs with angels and cherubum. For small holiday gifts to bring back, take a look at the holiday themed prints in the Lafayette Collection that boasts six different patterns (mostly teddy bears or snowmen) in oven mitts, aprons and serving towels. Of course buying the linen is only the start to a proper holiday table—along with the dishes and silver and crystal there's small decorative touches: candles are a must, small center–pieces are preferred so you can see the other guests at table and ribbons or glitter strewn across the table are considered easy touches for a festive air.

Copyright (c) Suzy Gershman

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