Monday, August 06, 2007

Fichu: if you want it, he's got it

Fichu vintage fabric shop in Berlin

The other day I reaped the rewards of fabric tourism as the Other’s friend Lydia introduced me to Fichu, which she claimed was the best fabric shop in Berlin. It's not only that; it's like a parallel universe where no fabric ever dies—floor to ceiling stacks of vintage fabric from any period you could imagine, many still on the bolt and available in whatever amount you need. (And in this parallel universe, there must not be fire marshals.) A cotton avalanche seemed imminent and in place of aisles there were a couple paths carved through the stacks, so browsing was a little tricky. Instead, you just had to let the shopkeeper know what you were looking for, and chances are he could unearth it from whatever magic rabbit hole he had at the back of the shop.

He was what really made the stop worthwhile. He’s been selling textiles for many moons, and seemed to know just about everything about them (the Berlin office of Christie’s uses him as an expert). I thought I was being clever by asking of a large-scale Finnish print was Marimekko—“Everyone knows only Marimekko,” he sighed somewhat jokingly. Keep thy cleverness to thyself, Feed Dog.

I was of course mostly looking for midcentury fabric; he noted that it’s almost always people from English-speaking countries who are looking for retro prints. Australians in particular, he said; their population didn’t boom until the Fifties, so they don’t have much native midcentury design. Germans, he said, like Op-Art and Seventies design theoretically, but “for someone else” rather than in their own homes.

It was a shame I wasn’t looking for anything in particular, because I’m sure it would have been there. I ended up buying half a metre of two fabrics—an indulgence, but worth it for the experience, which was more like visiting a museum than shopping.

Update: Here's the fabric I bought (click to zoom).

vintage fabric from Fichu vintage fabric from Fichu

I'm not entirely sure what I'm going to do with them, but I'm sure I'll come up with something.


Libby said...

Wow - believe it or not that place sounds quite similar to the one and only quilt shop in my town. We always joke about calling the fire inspector in order to force the owner into having a clearance sale. Yet somehow she knows exactly what she has. I love it, but some ppl find it so claustrophobic that they won't go there at all.

Kittee said...

fichu sounds amazing, i'm sure I would have freaked out on adrenaline in there.

btw, i just found your blog tonight--i was lured in by your impressive card catalog quilt.