The CHANCEL Brothers’ silk from Lyons

Silk manufacturer descendant

Marie Aglaë Henriette was the 3rd child of Henri Dupuy de Lôme. Georges Chancel, her husband, was the son of Paul Chancel.

The Chancel family was from Lyons and Paul, with his brothers Evariste and Marius, were silk merchants under the Second Empire.

After two centuries of splendour during which the silk merchants followed the European and especially Italian fashion, the fashion industry slowly replaced pure silks with mixed fibre fabrics,
crêpe, gauze, chiffon etc. This recession marked the end of the industry in 1880. Indeed the fashion industry was more interested in fabrics made from silk mixed with another fibre, like cotton or wool, because it was cheaper than pure silk.

In order to obtain a cheaper silk, the idea was to use silk waste, called floss which was obtained by hand-combing. This modern-day silk is called schappe or silk noil. Silk-waste processing was a rather small sector which became more industrial between 1830 and 1840. There are two stages before the silk can be sent to the silk-spinning mills. The first stage is to use chemicals to make the silk silky and shiny.

In 1850 the three Chancel brothers (Evariste, Paul and Marius) joined forces with their cousin, Arduin (a banker) and came up with a whole new way of silk combing. Their idea was to transform hand-combing into mechanical combing by using hydraulic energy.

Schappe was the jewel in the crown of Briancon’s industry. The factory employed up to 1,000 people at the end of the 19th century.The Chancel brothers’ silk mill stopped spinning in 1932.

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