Silks woven in Lyon are now being returned to China for finishing in a joint operation that recreates the ‘tea silks,’ which were one of China’s most prestigious 19th century textile exports.

The Lyon-based silk weaving specialist Bucol offers a range that accurately simulates the look and handle of l9th century tea silks which gained their name from overlaying the original dye shades of red, blue or green with an antiqued brown finish.

The silk is woven in Lyon and dyed with natural dyestuffs before being dispatched back to China for the final finishing treatment.

Today this involves resin washing rather than, as in the original process, being first buried and then exhumed and laid out in the sun to fix the tints created by the oxidising effects of contact with the iron rich soils of south China.

The Bucol group believes the fabrics will appeal primarily to the luxury end of the market.

By Sonia Roberts