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Life by the metre: Bernie de le Cuona

Life by the metre: Bernie de le Cuona


Bernie de Le Cuona has built a fabric empire of products that touch most countries in the world. Her passion for linen ignited a desire to create and interpret textile design in a new way and the proof of her work is in the quality and beauty of every de Le Cuona collection. From South Africa to London and beyond, her vision is a testament to creativity and far-sightedness that ensures that the de Le Cuona fabric house remains unique in the world of fabrics.

Good taste and style are, for the most part, inherited traits. Many things can be taught, but these attributes are not learned. When it comes to Bernie de Le Cuona, good taste and style are her trademarks and these are evident when first meeting the woman who presides over the de Le Cuona fabric house. From the outset, her demeanour is exemplary, her personality sparkling, but then there are the fabrics and, in particular, the much loved linens, which are pure luxury and sophistication in every metre. Bernie de Le Cuona is the powerhouse, creative director and owner of the de Le Cuona fabric house based in London. The story of her journey from lover of design to doyenne of a world-class fabric business began in South Africa where she was born and spent her childhood.


In her early years she studied architectural design and, through this, developed her love of interiors and the objects within the home. Initially de Le Cuona established a business importing modern furniture into South Africa, selling to architects and designers, but fortuitously moved to Brussels where she discovered the special beauty of fabric and, particularly, linen. Her fascination for the textile grew and she began to see the fabric’s possibilities in design and applications. Relocating to the UK with her family in the mid 1990s, de Le Cuona found that the time was right to establish her own textile company, with linen as the star, and so the de Le Cuona fabric house was born.

Today, linen is the fabric of choice, specified extensively for interior projects by designers and architects throughout the world. In the late 1990s, however, the textile, made from flaxseed, was only available in patterns. De Le Cuona changed that by creating a range of plains in soft and sophisticated colours that included taupes, creams and soft hues of pinks and blues. The first range was a success and plain linens have since become the norm. Building on her initial success, de Le Cuona’s creativity expanded and she began to reimagine linen, creating fabrics of differing weights and textures, combining the linen with other textiles such as ribbon or wool. Expanding the de Le Cuona offering, wool and paisley ranges were developed and have since become an important part of the business and today de Le Cuona has some 400 skus, in a variety of textiles, patterns and colourways.


De Le Cuona fabrics are available in most countries around the world, but it is interesting that colour sets demand apart. It seems that in France a variety of colour is keenly sought after with a predominance of yellow, Italy loves chocolate brown, London and New York demand grey and cream, and Russia is in love with pink! And so the de Le Cuona ranges are designed to cater to the diversity of its clients, their desires and requirements within the colour spectrum.

Each January a new collection is released, building on the collection from the year before and the year before that. The ranges work with each other and the colourways and patterns are designed to complement and accessorise each other; however, this year there was a special launch in September of a new fabric range to celebrate paisley. Paisley is a special fabric manufactured through a unique weaving technique; however, it is often overshadowed by the collections of linen and wool. This year two very different ranges were launched, one pale the other a riot of colour, and again there is something for everyone in every country.


The de Le Cuona head office is situated in Windsor, just over the road from Windsor Castle, with two warehouses that stock kilometres of fabric, and there are two showrooms in London and another in New York. The company itself is 40-strong, but growing fast and de Le Cuona is always on the move personally visiting her distributors and helping to celebrate new openings and collections.

From a small idea and a passion for fabric, Bernie de Le Cuona has created a business but, more than this, she has helped change the face and perception of one textile, linen. What a fine idea and an even better result.

This article originally appeared in inside 94 – available now on newsstands, or digitally through Zinio.


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