In this special blog, we take a look at the beautiful designs of Toile de Jouy from France by Lilly.
Created for lovers of French culture by designer Zarina Dzhanbaeva, these special art objects bring a touch of timeless French décor to any home.
An iconic fabric
Even if you don’t know its name, you will almost certainly recognize the Toile de Jouy design. There are many patterns, depicting fields of flowers, geometric figures and rural, countryside scenes.
Sometimes simply known as ‘Toile,’ the fabric is quintessentially French.
Except it actually originates from Ireland, but its popularity spread across the rest of Europe in the 18th century. Production took off in the Paris area town of Jouy-en-Josas, and the town eventually gave this iconic fabric its name.
Originally used in home décor, fashion designers from Dior to Erdem have used Toile de Jouy in their collections.
There is even a museum dedicated to the fabric located in Jouy-en-Josas, ten miles from the capital.
A modern take: Toile de Jouy from France by Lilly
One of the latest uses for the iconic Toile de Jouy is France By Lilly, a new creative business run by Zarina Dzhanbaeva.
France By Lilly creates beautiful, bespoke gift boxes. Although looking like a classic hatbox decorated with Toile de Jouy, inside they contain gifts, curiosities, and sometimes charms and antiques.
France by Lilly boxes are chic, elegant and also practical. Prices start from 210€, with customized filled boxes from 430€.
We catch up with Zarina about the Toile de Jouy from France by Lilly, and what inspires her.
56Paris: Are you a Paris native?
Zarina: I’m from a small town in southern Russia but arrived in France more than 10 years ago. I would say that my love of France comes from my mom. She used to wake me up in the mornings by singing ‘Les Champs-Élysées’ by Joe Dassin.
Also, I attended school at the Young Ladies of Good Manners. Here I practiced different types of arts: painting, sculpture, sewing, and dance. My professors would make me dream about France, its culture, cuisine, fashion, and architecture.
Over time, I could dream of nothing but living in France, the land of the ‘Art de Vivre.’
At first, I arrived in the beautiful city of La Rochelle, then Angers for studies. Finally, I moved to the magical capital! I saw Paris and it was love at first sight. I feel deep inside that I belong here. It is the city of my heart.
56Paris: Have you always been in the design field?
Zarina: At the age of 18 I had to choose between studying design or choosing a field that would allow me to travel to France. I decided to study Tourism at the biggest French-language university in Russia. Thanks to my Tourism studies, three years later my dream came true and I was here, living in France.
Being here means I get to nourish my love for design and arts just by contemplating everything around me. I am amazed by the diversity, richness, and beauty of this country, along with its museums, galleries, streets, and artisans. So really, I would say that I developed my taste for design in France.
56Paris: What sort of training prepared you for your work?
Zarina: I was lucky. By chance, I met a passionate Parisian cardboard maker with 35 years of experience. She passed on her knowledge to me. In addition to this understanding of traditional cardboard, I use sewing to create my boxes. I learned and enjoyed sewing with my family as they were hatters.
56Paris: What made you want to specialize in hatboxes?
Zarina: So many things. First of all, the hatboxes invoke an incredible romanticism to me. They are a touch of history, they are nostalgic, and they have a ‘wow’ factor when gifting someone such a precious present. Each hatbox is a beautiful design object.
I want to create pieces that show all that is beautiful and good in France. I had in my mind exactly how I wanted them to look, upholstered with the best French fabrics. But as I couldn’t find these exact fabrics, I created them myself.
It was especially important for me, in terms of environmental impact, to create a box made in France that my clients would treasure, cherish and use through time, instead of getting rid of it as disposable packaging.
That’s why each France By Lilly hatbox is a precious item.
56Paris: Why do you use Toile de Jouy fabric?
Zarina: In the opulent 18th century, Marie Antoinette inspired romantic fashion, graceful architecture, superb craftsmanship, and the arts. Even today, the iconic Queen of France continues to inspire the elegant French ‘art de vivre.’
So for my first box, I selected each item to relate to her life and history. The Queen herself would select her fabrics from Toile de Jouy for her dresses and so did I.
Of course, I love the unique and timeless design of Toile de Jouy which continues to seduce the entire design world since 1760. Today it’s a worldwide symbol of France.
For my next collection I will use a different fabric, Le Jardin du Palais from Pierre Frey which is my new coup de cœur.
56Paris: What are the various uses for the boxes?
Zarina: It’s a unique object which brings an elegant touch to your decor. It can hold accessories such as hats, belts, scarves, or even lingerie. Each box has a lining inside made of delicate suede from the house of Casal, so they are also perfect for porcelain or other fragile and precious items.
56Paris: What led you to create your company?
Zarina: I used to work in hospitality, in luxury hotels, and loved sharing my passion for France with the tourists. Over time, I took inspiration from these clients, who were searching for something more authentic to buy and to enjoy back at home.
In 2018 I imagined a welcome gift box that encapsulates the excellence of French know-how, and which shows the beauty and greatness of France. That was my inspiration.
56Paris: What items are in your gift boxes?
Zarina: Each box and its contents are unique. Several items are either in limited editions, made especially for France by Lilly, or they are unique and rare.
Each gift box contains a curated selection of six to 10 items, hand-picked from the best French artisans. It could be a handmade ‘bibi’ from the Parisian hatter Odèle, antique teaspoons from Saglier Frères et Cie, delicious chocolate from Debauve & Gallais, or other treasures.
56Paris: Are they all made entirely in France?
Zarina: Yes, everything is 100% French-made. It’s one of my fundamental values to deliver something truly authentic. Each box enhances French heritage and preserves the know-how of this country’s craftsmanship.
56Paris: How does your company take steps to protect the environment?
Zarina: I use only recycled or chemically neutral paper that is acid-free, along with solvent-free glue. I also recycle fabric offcuts and always use local fabrics only made in France. Also, I participate in the movement ‘Together, let's save the forest of Chantilly.’
56Paris: Where do you live in the Paris area?
I used to live and work in the St Germain area. I adore it for its characteristic atmosphere, gastronomical restaurants, and art galleries. Then I moved to the 16th which is a beautiful family neighborhood. Now I live in Chantilly, only 25 minutes from Paris, that I chose during the confinement to be closer to nature.
We are Paris-based experts
Are you inspired by the designs of Toile de Jouy from France by Lilly? You can find out more at their website here.
If you love French culture and have dreams of moving here, or are thinking about purchasing a second home in Paris, we would love to help.
Please do get in touch with the team at 56Paris to see how we can assist you. All advice is freely given with no obligation.