Sunday, January 3
Profile & Podcast: Pierre Frey Celebrates 75 Years
January 1st marked the 75th anniversary of the founding of the house of Pierre Frey. When I was last in New York I had the opportunity to spend time with Pierre Frey, named after his grandfather and the company founder, who is now in charge of the US subsidiary. We had a chance to talk about fabrics, design and the family's history. Listen here.
It is hard not to be smitten with the Pierre Frey showroom and the walls of exquisite fabric. After touring the showroom, I was fascinated to learn from Pierre of the company’s remarkable archival collection. Since 2003 more than 30,000 documents dating from the 16th century to the present day have been gathered in Paris where they can be searched by period, colour, motif and technique. It’s an extraordinary resource, which represents designs from the company’s four brands (Pierre Frey, Braquenié, fadini borgh, Boussac) along with a selection of rare pieces acquired at auction, from antique dealers and private collections.
Pierre Frey story is one of adventure and a self-made man. The founder, Pierre Frey, was born into a bourgeois family in Northern France in 1903 and grew up in an elegant world among music-lovers and antique dealers. When his parents’ fortunes suddenly took a turn for the worse, Pierre had to leave school and go to work. At the age of 16 he became an assistant in an antiques business on Place de la Madeleine, and on January 1st 1935 he set up his own business, creating Pierre Frey.
Of course war followed soon after, bringing difficult times, yet Pierre carried on working, making deliveries to his customers on his bicycle. Ambitious and dedicated in every sense of the word, Pierre built his success by blending passion, dedication and rigorous attention to detail.
Fortunately, Pierre’s only son, Patrick, shared his father’s passion for fabrics. Patrick also inherited a strong artistic instinct from his mother, a textile designer, and from his maternal grandfather René Prou – a renowned interior designer in the 1930s.
When Patrick joined the company he learned the ropes by working in all the departments. He became creative director of Pierre Frey in 1975 and Chairman in 1976. Since then he has personally approved every new fabric produced by the company – of which there are around 50 a year. Assisted by his wife Lorraine, who develops the company’s international profile, Patrick brings devotion, enthusiasm and intuition to the company his father founded.
It’s a wonderful story of passion, respect for the past, and vision for the future that spans three generations. Spend any time around this family and it is obvious that Patrick Frey, his wife Lorraine and his three sons, Pierre, Vincent and Matthieu, share a love of the family history, a passion for detail, a strong work ethic and enthusiasm for creativity. Here is to another 75 wonderful years.
Tomorrow I will profile Pierre Frey, the grandson and the man overseeing the US subsidiary.
Profile by Ronda Carman