Le Bleu de Pastel en vidéo

The little story of Pastel blue

Dyers' Pastel (Isatis tinctoria), called "waed" in the north of France, is a plant whose leaves are used for dyeing and the seeds for pastel oil. In the past, the leaves were crushed in pastell mills, reduced to a paste and molded by hand into balls called "cocagnes".

The balls of plenty then underwent various fairly long and delicate treatments (crushing, fermentation, drying, etc.) before producing pigment that could be used for dyeing.

The art of the master pastel maker then consisted of using this pigment to prepare his vat. It was long and complicated, but the reward was at the end when the fabric came out of the bath still yellow-green and turned blue as if by magic on contact with the air.

We obtained with pastel all the shades of blue from the lightest
at its darkest, it did not fade and retained its colors over time... Pastel retains all these qualities today.

The use of pastel has been known since prehistoric times; the Egyptians also used it. But from Roman antiquity until the 16th century, it was Western Europe which benefited the most from it! Celts and Gauls used pastel to blue their fabrics, color their hair, but also cover their faces and bodies in order to frighten their enemies. Is this the origin of the expression “to be scared to death”?

In the medieval European world, blue was hardly accepted. It was Saint Louis (Louis IX) who imposed blue in his arms, a color which gradually became the emblem of the nobility.
Dyers then need a reliable and valuable dye.

However, throughout Europe we are already growing woad, particularly in the south which produces a very good quality dye in quantity due to its climate.

This is how, for climatic reasons, but also perhaps because of the Hundred Years' War, a triangle of Albi in the North, Toulouse in the West, Carcassonne in the South, will become the land of choice for the culture of pastel.

In the 14th century, from Lauragais, the pastel trade began which made the region prosper until the arrival of indigo in the middle of the 16th century.

We will then speak of the "Land of plenty" in this region where pastel is a source of enrichment for pastel merchants established in Albi and especially in Toulouse.

The most prosperous period was in the years 1450-1560 when pastel appeared as "blue gold" and allowed great merchants like Pierre d'Assézat in Toulouse to build considerable fortunes, to build sumptuous private mansions, to access the function of Capitol and to become ennobled.

The culture and trade of pastel gradually disappeared from Europe with the arrival of indigo from India, cheaper and
easier to use. Other causes are also at the origin of this decline such as the wars of religion and the lack of motivation of ennobled merchants...

In the middle of the 18th century, indigo completely supplanted pastel. Under Napoleon, due to the continental blockade, pastel was reborn during the time it took to dye the uniforms of the Napoleonic army. Then, it will fall back into oblivion until the 20th century...

From 1994, pastel was brought back to prominence by Denise and Henri Lambert, the founders of the company Bleu de Lectoure.

Current production of pigment and oil represents more than 100 hectares of cultivation in Occitania.

The new industrial applications of the plant, some of which have been known since antiquity, are numerous:
- Fine arts (ink, pastels, watercolor, painting, etc.)
- Textile (dip dyeing of fabrics and spools of thread for weavers, haute couture, etc.)
- Cosmetics (pastel oil rich in essential fatty acids, pigment and leaf extract)
- Building, automotive and aeronautical painting, etc.
- Medicine (research,...)


1987: Creation of the workshop and trademark registration in Yvelines: creation of unique pieces for a Parisian and international clientele, creation of “wedding” and “pregnancy” themed clothing.

1990: Start of a 10-year series, with 2 fashion shows per year, Paris in spring and winter in Germany.

1995: Election to the board of directors of a chamber of trades. Creation of a clientele in France outside the borders of Île de France (Grenoble, Montpellier, Nice, Toulouse).

1997/1998: Meeting with Yves, same job, same passions. Yves' industrial experience and Annette's sewing prove to be fruitful and creative. Market study, for a joint establishment in Midi-Pyrénées

1999: Settling in the countryside in Saint Cézert, north of Toulouse.

2000: Themed clothing for EADS.

2001: First collection distributed in ready-to-wear stores.

2004: Clothing distributed in 6 departments and 3 regions, creation of unique pieces. Collections created in fabrics dyed with Lectoure pastel blue .

2004: Series of exhibitions called “Rendez-vous Toulousains” in unusual places such as the bookstore-tea room “La Lettre Thé” in Toulouse from September

2004 : Birth of the AHPY brand - A nnette Hardouin - P atissier Yves ).

2005: “Women” show in Toulouse in April and “Rencontre Zen” show in Paris in September. “Mode-Palabre” brunch at Lettre Thé and permanent exhibition-sale showroom. November: birth of the “Terremère” line and inauguration cocktail at La Lettre Thé in December.

2006: New website and new location in Caylar (34). We are talked about in "Le Pastel - Visite en Pays de Cocagne" (June 2006 ) National Days of Artisans at the Chamber of Crafts of Toulouse (October)

2007: Creation of AHPY Private Collection. Installation of our workshop in Toulouse at Caillou Gris

2008: A new approach to our profession... National craft days: in October organization of demonstration workshops. Setting up workshops-internships for the year

2008/2009: Birth of a “men” collection and support for young designers.

2009: Development of workshops and courses. Creation and participation in Minimarts.

2010: Creative courses also with external speakers. Year of obtaining the title “Master craftsman in craftsmanship”

2011: Setting up pastel blue dyeing courses with our partner Bleu de Lectoure. Academician of pastel.

2012-2014: Strengthening the training center , welcoming trainees in continuing professional training. Support for people covered by FAFCEA, DIF, CIF, AIF (Pôle emploi). Member of the Ateliers d’Art de France .

2014-2015: Years of development of training and dyeing activities with Pastel, regional heritage. Participation in JEMA, Toulouse Christmas Market and International Cultural Heritage Fair at the Carrousel du Louvre in Paris.

2016: Pastel leaves its regional and national borders... Rennes International Fair (March), Nantes International Fair (April), Colmar Spring (April), Toulouse International Fair (April), Paris Fair (May) ), Made in France Paris Porte de Versailles (November), International Exhibition of Cultural Heritage in Paris , Toulouse Christmas Market (December). Birth of the ORGANIC range!

2017: We continue towards excellence: weaving and printing our designs in France. Expansion of the ORGANIC range. Our cottons under the Oeko-Tex label. Participation in JEMA, Toulouse Christmas Market and International Cultural Heritage Exhibition at the Carrousel du Louvre in Paris.