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FRENCH BLUE. What’s in a name? A lot I believe. When we named our opaque nylon tights French Blue, all I could think about was taking my legs on a little get-away to southern France. Being a bit of a “Francophile” I am in love with anything French and just the thought of being in southern France where blue dyes were used to make beautiful fabrics makes me swoon. The name French Blue is universally recognized as a greyish blue with much depth and can be soft or deep, depending on the fabric.
There is much history to French Blue. The rise in the color blue in fashion in the 12th and 13th centuries led to a thriving blue dye industry in several European cities, including Toulouse, a southern French city. The dye was called pastel and it was made from woad, a common shrub from the mustard family grown in Europe. Unfortunately, the dying process was particularly long and noxious. During the 15th century, indigo, a shrub grown in Asia, was introduced from India and competed with woad. The European countries with prosperous pastel businesses tried to block the use of indigo but it was too late. They indigo was a better price, easier to use, and created a beautiful rich blue. Despite the “battle of the blues”, blue continued to be a dominant color in France and represented the color of liberty and revolution. Throughout history, beautiful blue fabrics were used in homes and fashion as well as the military.
Many historical French fabrics that were dyed in Southern France can still be found and chateaus built during the era of woad dying dot the countryside near Toulouse and still remain today. A company called “The French General” offers classes in dying French blue textiles in southern France. Oh  how I would love to go!

536_1492_thumbOf course our tights are not dyed with indigo or woad, but the color replicates this beautiful greyish blue that works so well with denim and compliments so many colors. I suppose I will just have to enjoy my Foot Traffic French blue tights and hope that someday I will  experience the authentic blue fabrics of France.

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