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Move over, Milan

To hear Sharon Litwin's WWNO radio interview with Camilla Franklin, click here.

New digital technology has sparked a resurgence of the textile industry in New Orleans. (Photo courtesy Blissett Textile)

It wasn’t that long ago that New Orleans had its own thriving textile industry. But, like so many other manufacturers in communities around this nation undercut by cheaper Chinese and Indian products, it could not survive.

Now, however, for those artists still involved in the creative design of textiles, the advent of cutting-edge digital technology has encouraged a new, albeit much smaller, version of this long-time local industry.

One of its leaders is British-born Camilla Franklin, who has been in the textile design and product development world for almost 30 years. After finishing at Hornsey College of Arts and Crafts, now part of Middlesex University in London, Camilla went on to obtain a post graduate degree in Scotland. In 1986, upon graduation, she was awarded the III International Competition prize, traveling to Japan for the exhibition and ceremony. Then came work with London fashion designers Jasper Conrad and Paul Smith, followed by a move to New York and a management position with Burlington Industries. In 1996, she came to New Orleans to become the VP of Design and Global Sourcing for Blumenthal Print Works, staying until its recent closure.

Camilla Franklin's blossom on linen is among samples of her one-of-a-kind fabrics. (Photo courtesy Blissett Textile)

With the development of new digital technology, she is using all of her professional experience to design and print her own textiles, as well as those of others who want unique fabrics, be it one or hundreds of yards long.

And while there are a few other companies around the country using this same new computer technology, Camilla’s company, Blissett Textile, focuses more on the industry itself, rather than on selling to individual consumers. Her goal is to work with and service other designers, as well as create some of her own products.

So New Orleans can look forward to yet another link in the area’s fashion, fabric, design and clothing construction worlds. Who knows: Perhaps if they all get together, we’ll have enough fabulous clothing lines to brag, Couture, c’est ici.

Or enough amazing design products to compete with the best of Italian and European imports.

Tomorrow in Fashion Sistas, Part Two: Camilla Franklin talks to NolaVie contributor Carol Pulitzer about ... wanting to raise chickens. 

Sharon Litwin is president of NolaVie.

Sharon Litwin is president of NolaVie. Email her at [email protected]