Do you have a thing for Toile?



Toile, or Toile de Jouy as it is properly called, refers to any cotton or linen fabric with a single colour repeated pattern on it that traditionally depicts some sort of country scene. Toile has inspired designers for hundreds of years - it first appeared in the late 18th Century in France, and has been used to adorn clothing, curtains and walls ever since.



My mother was a big fan of Toile - her bedroom had a red and white Toile wallpaper on it (there were two versions of it, the first in our old family home, and the next in the house in Stirling - different Toiles but the same colour scheme as she liked it so much). I'm not sure that Dad really cared one way or the other about the Toile factor in their bedroom...my father is not know for his design sensibilities (I think we can all definitely say that I do not get my design ability from him). While Toile has a certain feminine charm to it, the neutrality of the single colour and repeat of the pattern seems to often distract men from the fact that it is not necessarily a manly print. Gambolling scenes of the country side would normally not appeal to many men. But Toile has been shaken up in more recent times. Firstly by French fabric company Manuel Canovas with their interesting use of colour.


Then it's had a total revamp by Scottish wallpaper and fabric company Timorous Beasties whose London Toile, which also comes in neon brights, depicts a slightly grittier scene than the traditional gambolling country maids - instead it depicts scenes from council estates with homeless people, hold ups and police cars, all rendered in the traditional Toile style.



Toile has often inspired fashion. My first, and only, sighting of the legendary stylist Isabella Blow was from a bus driving down Sloane Street in London. She was instantly recognisable, wearing a blue and white toile Vivienne Westwood crinoline skirted dress, topped off with a Philip Treacy hat on a rakish angle, tottering on high, high heels down the street. It was quite the sight. I can find no image of Isabella in the dress, but here is one of the Burlesque performer Dita Von Teese in her version of it. This was most definitely not a normal look at 10am on a London street. 


That collection also featured Toile knee high boots. Not necessarily the most practical for rainy days. But then, Vivienne Westwood isn't necessarily known for being the most practical.


Other designers, such as Carolina Herrera, have been inspired by Toile. Carolina Herrera has a famous red toile bedroom, in which toile is used upholstered on the walls, for the curtains, and on the dressing table chair and sofa. The room was used used to photograph her daughter wearing a toile ball gown from one of her collections.



Most recently, Oscar de la Renta has used Toile in his new Autumn/Winter collection in rich colours, which fits with the overall bohemian feel of this season's collections (the jewellery is particularly lovely). 



So tell me, any Toile at your place?

all images via

36 comments:

  1. I've got the Canovas one above.
    You know how we were talking about Chinoiserie and men and their dislike of birds and flowers, well in our house it's also Toile - "not more wee people?" " No, elephants, pink ones"

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    1. That's hilarious Tabitha - the Canovas one could definitely slip by with the more manly elephants on it. "wee people" just makes me think of a toile with little leprechauns on it. Now there's a thought...!

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    2. That'll be on Timerous Beasties Irish Toile!

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  2. Love toile, I adore that MC bengale motif in that very exact color! But his friend has that in her guest loo so when we visit he cant use it as it makes him a bit disoriented. Seriously I dont know where to start - you can see why i am mega stressed. I love that Herrera picture soooo much. I would have used London toile from TBeasties but that scene where someone gets mugged puts me off otherwise I would have put it in the loo stat. One of these days I will get completely toiled up. But for now one battle at a time. But I don't think I could wear it myself...Am now heading for fornasetti as it is male acceptable...xx

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    1. Mr CSW gets disorientated by Toile? Hilarious! I can see why you have a few things to sort through with the wallpaper. But welcome to my world, and the 6 months in Hell I spent designing the Kitchen with Mr AV as active client.
      I like the concept of the TImorous Beasties one, but couldn't live with it myself. Maybe for a commercial space it would be good. Or someone edgier than me. Fornasetti is lovely. Have you looked at the Cole and Son papers? There's one with clouds on it that is lovely (if moody). xx

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    2. Like the clouds one in theory but I live with enough dang clouds in real life so avoiding that one! ;)

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  3. I love it Heidi. I bought a lovely red and grey toile bedspread at Marinette in St. Tropez with some cushions for our master bed. It is quite a nice way of getting it into the room - I'm not sure that my husband would be keen on the wallpaper!
    I have seen some toile at Pierre Frey that has scenes of an alpine ski runs. I really want it for curtains in one of the guest bedrooms in our Colorado home but it is very expensive and the particular room has lots of windows! Perhaps one day! x

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    1. I wish I could see pictures of your house Charlotte - it sounds lovely. I know that Pierre Frey fabric, it would be perfect for a Chalet... could you do a chair or bench seat instead? Curtains can be rather expensive..... xx

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  4. I love toile! my downstairs bathroom is black and white toile and I never tire of it!

    I would love a toile top.... hmmm... still have some material leftover..

    and the timorous beasties nyc scenes belong in my house..

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    1. You should definitely whip up a toile top Wendy! xx

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  5. I am really fond of Toile de Jouy, but I don't own anything with the print. My husband is not a fan, and he insists on having the last word on the purchase of home furnishings, so no to any decorations which might have a Toile print. I had a blouse in a really pretty black & white Toile, but I ended up selling it as it was too big for me. Must go take a closer look at the Oscar de la Renta collection - those are some gorgeous outfits there!

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    1. You could always sneak a bit of toile into the house with lavender bags in your drawers or something Louise! It's so sad when men veto decorative schemes... Mr AV makes decorating very difficult sometimes! xx

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  6. Oh yes love a toile especially one thats a bit faded . Alas none at my house ..to be honest bit disconcerted by Carolina's bedroom ..too much of a good thing I think

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    1. Carolina's bedroom is very French - they tend to cover walls, curtains and upholstery in the same fabric. Quite cosy in feel, but I'm not convinced it translates into Australia well - too claustrophobic in our climate and with our light? xx

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  7. None in my house, and I can imagine that if there were, it would have broken my "no renovation for 12 months" policy quick smart in taking it out.

    In the right setting, (ie Europe) it can be charming, but it just looks out of place in Australian homes to me (unless done with tongue firmly in cheek). Now, if there were to be a version with gambolling wombats, jumping kangaroos and elegantly arched emus, then I may just have to think again....

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    1. I wonder if there is an Australian toile? I'm sure I read something about one in Vogue Living a few years ago? xx

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  8. Forgot to tell you, thought of you when I saw a magazine called SA Life in a newsagent yesterday . do you know it ?

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    1. Oh yes! SA life was how we found our house for sale (it was in the front real estate ads), and I've appeared in the social pages a couple of times at the back (along with most of Adelaide I hasten to add - it's not hard to get in the social pages). It's been around for maybe 10 years? Very popular mag in Adelaide...! xx

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  9. Hello! I have a blue toile table cloth which is wonderful, it really dresses up the table and if you accidently drop something, you can hardly see the stains among all the illustrations!. In the village house I have some duna covers and cushions which I bought from IKEA! I think they look great in any decor just as long as you don't overdo it (although I must admit that the Carolina Herrera room is gorgeous!).
    http://reyesrobledo.blogspot.com.es/

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    1. Toile at Ikea??! I shall have to look out for it next time I'm there - I've never seen it before (although maybe it hasn't made it to Australia?). xx

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  10. Hi, for some unknown reason I can't use the "reply" button. The toile they had was the white and blue variety which is my favorite and the Duna covers were really cheap, less than 20 euros each (single beds, these are for the boys bedroom).

    I have been reading your old posts, your blog is amazing. I just have a question, how long have you been rennovating your home for (while living in it!). When we moved into our current home we had a 6 week rennovation and I nearly went insane! Half the workers were Bulgarian and the other half Rumanian, they did not get on at all! I just remember having to listen to multiple language swearing and yelling at all times!

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    1. I've had that problem on other blogs this week too (with the reply button).. must be a blogger problem that will hopefully fix soon.
      We've been renovating for 3.5 years on and off - this part of the renovation has so far taken 7 months and has been the most arduous! When we bought the house we spent 6 months before moving in doing the interior of the old part of the house, then after moving did the exterior which took around 6 months. We're lucky in that our builders are lovely - so polite and considerate. Some of the sub contractors aren't, but they tend to only be around for a week and then have finished, so it's mostly ok. Your builders sound like hard work!!

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  11. I love toile, but probably not in our house - too busy for the small spaces.
    I would love a pencil skirt in toile, and perhaps a pair of pumps to match!

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    1. Oooh yes, a skirt would be lovely - I could totally see you in that Ruth xx

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  12. My pulse quickens at the sight of toile and I would happily toile up my entire house yet so far have restricted myself to red and white Brunschwig & Fils in the bedroom....on the bed head and the chaise at the foot of the bed.....was idly searching their site the other day to see if they made matching wallpaper....alas it appears they don't. I also have a blue and white toile sofa, that was virtually free, which I found out at the auction house a couple of years ago.....I had a lovely time at the Les Olivades factory outlet which was conveniently 40 minutes down the way from Uzes amongst all of their toile and am waiting (patiently?) for the upholsterer to deliver new toile cushions backed with emerald green to go on an armchair. Will also admit to having a toile handbag I found years ago in Melboure....needless to say I would MURDER for that Caroline Herrera dress! Must dash as still haven't packed...see you tomorrow when we can continue this conversation ad nauseum! Rx

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    1. I love all the Toile in your house R, and it must bring back so many lovely memories of your time in France. See you soon! xx

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  13. No Toile here Heidi, although I wouldn't say no to a couple of discreet cushions. The pictures with Toile everywhere are quite overwhelming! Your renovations are looking good. Hope you get the window saga sorted out soon. When you first mentioned the bumbling C Team appearing over the horizon in their mini-van, I had a feeling it wouldn't be smooth sailing! Hope your children are enjoying their school holidays... we just got back from a week on Kangaroo Island (very windy). Enjoy the rest of your week. Jo xx

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    1. I think the whole Toile room doesn't work well with our climate either Jo. I think a literal version of the decoration that works in Europe never looks right here with our light and the heat.
      Your holidays sound lovely - mine have not been so exciting, but hopefully the windows will sort out soon.... xx

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  14. Like Romy I have a toile handbag - I think it was from Alannah Hill about 12 years ago. I go through phases where I love it in the house and then later I want it gone so I restrict it to cushion covers etc! (Obviously I am very fickle when it comes to soft furnishings....)

    Enjoy your weekend!

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    1. I think you need to change your soft furnishings around a bit every now and again, or it can get a bit boring... Your handbag sounds lovely - do you still use it? xx

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  15. I've recently come around to toile. I love looking at the patterns and seeing what is going on in them. I didn't realised that not all toile is equal. I think you could have a nice meaningful connection to some toile if it depicted things that strike a chord with you. Having said that, there does need to be some aussie toile (if there isn't already) I wonder what we could depict. People playing beach cricket!! I was just having this thought about Juliska and Isis ceramics because the illustrations are of English county side/houses. Need to make some that are Aussie. I've been trying to day dream what I would include to make it aussie. Ohhhh to dream!
    I don't think I love toile enough at this point in time to cover a whole chair or wallpaper the walls though.

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    1. I love those toile christmas stockings that you made Laura - they look gorgeous. xx

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  16. Now me, I try and avoid buying things I cannot pronounce as that would just be embarrassing. Is it toil, twal, twoil ? Must say that Caroline Herrera frock picture is pretty amazing, do you think she has a matching nighty to wear in that room herself so she doesn't clash? A chevron dressing gown would be a horror! mel x

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    1. you'd pronounce it phonetically as twul. I love that Carolina picture too - quite stunning. I can't imagine Carolina going for the whole chevron look - far too trendy for her! I'm sure she flounces around in a silk negligee in a very chic way of course! xx

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  17. Just read some of your other comments and had to add that I would learn to pronounce it if they made an Aussie version, mint green with native birds would look pretty fab I reckon. mel x

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    1. Oh - you're idea for the Aussie Toile would be gorgeous!! I'd definitely buy it xx

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Architect & Interior Designer. Mother of three. A sometimes Cook, Baker, Reader, Gardener, Fashion Lover, Renovator, Writer of random things in South Australia email me on anadelaidevilla@bigpond.com
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