The Carrés Alchimiques

The Carrés Alchimiques (Alchemical Scarves) is a series of four luxury silk scarves by Peau de Chagrin. Each scarf is in a limited edition of 100. They are printed and sewn in Lyon by a Soyeux; a traditional silk artisanal manufacturer. The city has been the centre of the French silk industry by royal decree since 1536.

A traditional multi screen-printing technique 'Impression à la Lyonnaise' is used to make the scarves. Each screen corresponds to a colour, which is hand mixed and unique to Peau de Chagrin.

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Carré Alchimique No.1

Celestial Alphabet of The Southern Hemisphere is the first scarf in the Peau de Chagrin Carrés Alchimiques series. It is made entirely in Lyon by an artisanal silk manufacturer, Maison Marc Rozier, founded in 1890.

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Carré Alchimique No.1

The scarf takes its inspiration from a 17th century drawing by Jacques Gaffarel, a noted scholar and astrologer of Cardinal Richelieu. This particular image uses Kabbalistic text to map the constellations visible from the Southern Hemisphere during his lifetime. The drawing appears in the 1650 edition of Curiosités Inouyes Sur la Sculpture Talysmanique des Persans: Horoscopes des Patriarches et Lecture des Estoilles. Translated as: Unheard of Curiosities Concerning the Talismanic Sculptures of the Persians, The Horoscope of the Patriarchs, and Readings of the Stars. This ancient book is currently held at Middle Temple Library in London in its original state.

Gaffarel’s interest in this alternative interpretation of the heavens, stems from his studies in linguistics and developing philosophies of the time. This includes re-discovered definitions of the cosmos. Jewish astrology developed independently from the ancient Greek and Roman mythologies. Gaffarel wanted to convey the Kabbalistic understanding that the letters of the Hebrew alphabet were magical interpretations of the stars and that the heavens could be read as if a book.

Jacques Gaffarel’s interpretation of the Kabbalah met with general outcry from the clergy who threatened him with death by fire, the same fate as Galileo of whom he was an ardent partisan.

However, the book enjoyed phenomenal success. Both René Descartes and French physician and mathematician Pierre Gassendi (1592–1655) defended and supported Gaffarel’s work. 

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