Fabric Spotlight: Natural Glazed Linen

Fabrics & Wallpaper, Products

Natural Glazed Linen, or ‘NGL’ as we call it, was one of the original fabrics included in the first Paolo Moschino Fabric Collection. Introduced approximately 25 years ago, the fabric is produced using a centuries-old manufacturing process to create a unique linen that blends strength and durability with a lustrous finish. To this day, it remains an absolute house favourite.

Described by Paolo and Philip as a “magical” fabric, this remarkable linen not only dresses many of the windows in their countryside home, but our Design Studio regularly uses it in client projects in locations around the world. NGL was actually the first fabric that we ever exported to the US market, and it has since attracted a loyal international base of acclaimed interiors designers.

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As with nearly all of our fabric designs, there is an interesting story behind NGL. While Paolo was shopping for a vintage army jacket in a second-hand shop, he stumbled across an Irish military jacket with a distinctive linen lining. Paolo and Philip are known for finding inspiration in unexpected places, and as they admired the quality of the military jacket’s fabric linin they realized it would be perfect for curtains and upholstery. This was the first step in learning the fascinating background to this textile, as Paolo, mesmerised by the natural, organic lustre of this sturdy linen lining, promptly started researching its origin. After discovering that it was made by the oldest linen-fabric mill in Ireland, Paolo contacted the fabric owners and they forged a deep, longstanding working relationship that continues to thrive to this day.

The textile manufacturer has a remarkable history that spans more than 300 years. An entrepeneur who launched his family’s linen mill in the early 18th century revolutionized what was then a traditional Irish cottage industry with the development of an innovative fabric-finishing machine called a beetling engine. Previously, woven linen would be finished by spreading it over river rocks before being repeatedly beaten with wooden blocks that would flatten the fabric and add a subtle lustre. The beetling engine was able to do this mechanically, using waterwheels to power iron cylinders wound with fabric that was then flattened and pounded systematically with heavy wooden blocks. The result was a special “beetled linen” that was smoother, stronger, less porous, and more water-resistant than untreated linen, in addition to its signature lustrous sheen. Over the centuries, the mill’s looms were adapted to weave additional fabrics, notably for military uniforms and war efforts, and it now utilizes state-of-the-art technology for some fabric production—though the original, time-honoured process of beetling linen has remained a speciality of the legendary, historic mill and it remains one of just a few traditional beetlers in the world.

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Luxuriously understated and with a natural texture and sheen, Paolo Moschino’s NGL, our version of beetled linen, is adaptable to a myriad of applications. For instance, at Paolo and Philip’s country home, which is surrounded by verdant plantings, the fabric takes on a warm green glow, and when used in a coastal setting, it reflects the shimmering colours of the sea. It is indeed a magical fabric, and one that should be seen and touched to truly appreciate how special it really is.

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Not long after the introduction of NGL, Paolo and Philip had a hint it would be a great success when a celebrated American designer, whom they greatly respected, placed what seemed to be a surprisingly substantial order. Paolo explains, “It was for 5,000 metres (more than three miles), and I questioned, ‘That’s a great deal of linen, perhaps they typed an extra zero by mistake?'” In fact, it was the full 5,000 metres, promptly followed by numerous other orders, and NGL has been a bestseller ever since.

For more information, please contact us at [email protected]

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