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Mauve changes fashion forever
As a young chemist, William Perkin tried to make a synthetic version of quinine which was an expensive, natural treatment for malaria.
The experiment failed, but by repeating it he obtained a purple solution which dyed silk easily. The colour remained even after washing. From bitter failure came sweet success - Perkin's Mauve was born.
Perkin sent some dye samples to Pullars. Robert Pullar responded with huge support.
In 1856, Perkins filed for a patent and started producing Mauve in huge volumes, sending shockwaves through the Victorian fashion industry. Pullars bought the dye and applied it to their fabrics on a commercial scale, including a sample sent to Queen Victoria.
Interact with the dress. Courtesy Science Museum (CC)
If your discovery does not make the goods too expensive it is decidely one of the most valuable that has come out for a very long time. This colour is one which has been very much wanted in all classes of goods and could not be had fast on silk and only at great expense on cotton yarns.
I inclose you patterns of the best lilac we have on cotton. It is done by only one house in the United Kingdom, Andrews of Manchester, and they get any price they wish for it, but even it is not quite fast, it does not stand the tests that yours does and fades by exposure to air.”
Robert Pullar to William Perkin, 1856
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