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Textiles - Expo Brussels 1935

Textiles at the Exhibition Expo Brussels 1935
© E. Sergysels
Architect(s) : Julien De Ridder

The Textiles Pavilion, with a surface area of 4,000 m2, was built according to the plans of architect J. De Ridder. It consisted of three wings facing the Avenue du Centenaire, the Esplanade des Grands Palais and the Avenue Astrid and had a façade of 150 m2, flanked at both ends by towers over 20 metres high. Towards the gardens of the Belgian Section, the pavilion presented a facade of the same development crowned with garden terraces. Beautiful flowerbeds, water features, pergolas and sculptures formed an oasis of greenery on this side, from which the view could look out over the foliage of the Parc Forestier to the French Section.

Covered with a light and cream-coloured grain plaster, chrome-plated metal bands, delicately detailed decorative motifs and an original luminous frieze, the façades were adorned, towards the Esplanade des Grands Palais, with a wide entrance framed by superb ceramics created by the talent of Mr Hellemans. This entrance gave access to a courtyard of honour in the middle of which stood the very beautiful figure of "the Cloth", the work of the statuary Oscar Declerck. From this atrium, one entered the pavilion itself where the Electricity Fairy reigned supreme.

The great hall, lined with the windows of the houses of haute couture, furs, millinery, etc., was occupied in the centre by jewellery, goldsmiths and the diamond industry. A priceless array of stones and jewels dazzled the eye. An animated diorama showed a diamond deposit in operation, while a workshop of diamond workers made it possible to witness the operations of cutting the facets of a stone with a magnifying glass.

Among the rare pieces were the world's smallest brilliant and one of the largest pearls, the "Glory of California", weighing 112 grains. Several brilliant jewels, including a sparkling panel bearing the Sovereigns' cipher, attracted attention.

From this hall, where the most pleasing lighting effects enhanced the attractiveness of the articles created to satisfy female coquetry, and which was enlivened at various times by the presentation of models, the visitor entered the clothing hall, where the stands of our principal houses of men's and women's clothing, and those of lingerie and sewing materials, were set up. This hall ended with a curious black glass canopy in which were set, like ancient jewels, three very beautiful stained glass windows by the painter L. Crespin.

The whole of this part of the Pavilion gave off a deep impression of art and luxury. Haute couture was represented by some of the most important Belgian firms. Everything that the genius of skilled designers and artists has conceived to meet the demands of fashion was presented with exceptional mastery. One of our great couturiers had recreated a "Brussels Day in 1900" in the most successful way: a group of elegant women of the time in their most beautiful attire could be admired, while in another window, the public could see a social evening in 1935.

Moving from the central hall to the left, one encountered the hairdressers' and perfumers' community, housed under a dome bathed in a bright pink light, the men's and women's lingerie section, in a cheerful setting; the lace and costume jewellery sections, competing in ingenuity of presentation; the fur section; the embroidery and trimmings section - from light ribbons to pious chasubles - the hats section, the artificial flowers section; the handbags, umbrellas and parasols section; the feathers section; the buttons, buckles and trimmings section, etc.

The section of textile industries proper, comprising the communities of artificial silk, natural silk, cotton, linen, bleaching and finishing, rope and twine, wool and textile equipment, was of the greatest interest to the visitor. The manufacture of fabrics and the production of raw materials was shown in a particularly lively manner. Here a large animated allegory represented "Textile dressing the world"; there an automatic press, always in motion, showed how the ramifications of a piece of silk are printed.

This very important section of textiles, linked to the other groups in the Pavilion, had two direct entrances, one of which, overlooking Avenue Astrid, was surmounted by a photographic enlargement of 10 x 2 metres, due to the talent of Mr. Sergysels; the other, overlooking the gardens of the Belgian Section, opened under a very beautiful bas-relief figure, "The Woman on the Spinning Wheel", due, like "The Cloth", to the chisel of Mr. Oscar Declerck.

The Textile Pavilion was inaugurated on 18 May. The ceremony was presided over by Mr. Raymond Vaxelaire, President of the Group, surrounded by Messrs. Hirsch, Max Wolfers, Alten-ioh, Smets, Bâillon, Eeckelaers, Bernheim, the Count of Hemptinne, Presidents of the various sections. It was honoured by the presence of Mr. Van Isacker, Minister of Economic Affairs.

Mr. R. Vaxelaire gave the opening speech and paid tribute to the architect of the Pavilion. Baron Casier de ter Beken, President of the XX Group, recalled the important role of Flanders in the history of the Belgian textile industry. Viscount Yvan Simonis showed the current situation of the textile industries.

Mr. Van Isacker, after having shown how the textile industry is essentially Belgian, expressed the opinion that it is and remains one of our great hopes.

A few days later, Mr Van Isacker returned to inaugurate the diamonds and precious stones section in the same pavilion.

Mr. Lipschutz, President of the Jewellery Class, honoured him and the Belgian personalities who accompanied him. Speeches were given by Mr. Raymond Vaxelaire and the Minister.

On Saturday 22 June, a big Textile Day took place. The organisation was entrusted to Mr Maurice Guelton, Administrator of the Textile Exchange, who was assisted in his mission by Messrs Jules Bertrand, Ernsst Dubois, Alexis Carbonez and Hubert Van Genneken.

© Le Livre d'Or de l'Exposition Universelle de Bruxelles 1935