At the turn of the 20th century in 1920, Daniel Porthault opens a small lingerie boutique in Paris. In the Roaring Twenties, his wife Madeleine convinces him to expand into the undiscovered world of home couture. At a time when France and the world were sleeping on traditional white and ivory linen, Madeleine and Daniel introduce a new style of bedding- printed sheets. Inspired by her love of Impressionist art and the gardens at Giverny, and by her association with the fashion designer Maggie Rouff, Madeleine Porthault’s colorful sheets, adorned with dressmaker details, are an instant success.
In 1927 Madeleine and Daniel Porthault introduce a collection of table linens, further establishing the design and production qualities that will become their signature. The house of D. Porthault is soon synonymous with the artful mix of prints and embroideries – both classical and fanciful ~ and with a dedication to quality, craftsmanship and detail.
After opening its first boutique in New York in 1960, D. Porthault opens its first Parisian boutique in 1965 on the prestigious avenue Montaigne at no.18. At this time, Madeleine and Daniel Porthault include among their loyal clients Charles de Gaulle, Sir Winston Churchill, President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy, Coco Chanel, Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, the Duchess of Windsor and many other figures in government, fashion, cinema and society. From her vision in the 1920′s, Madeleine proves that “linens are not merely linens…They are a pleasure for all of one’s senses.”
Marc Porthault, son of Madeleine and Daniel, becomes the head of the family-owned company in 1976. Adopting a strategy of diversification, he enlarges the International presence of D. Porthault in Asia and the Middle East. Looking beyond the brand’s historic products, Marc Porthault expands the line, reintroducing lingerie and adding porcelain, children’s clothing, beachwear and accessories.
Until the beginning of the 1980, D. Porthault’s savoir faire in beddings is recognized and appreciated by the most exclusive hotels in the world, including the Hotel Ritz, the Bristol, the Meurice, the Crillon and the Plaza Athenée in Paris, the Pierre Hotel in New York, and Relais & Chateaux properties throughout Europe.
In 2005, passionate about the art and the savoir faire of France, Joan and Bernard Carl, a Washington, D.C. couple, purchase D. Porthault. A loyal client of D. Porthault for over thirty years, Joan Carl owns a château in the Loire Valley. Her appreciation and years of involvement in the fashion and art worlds, combined with her knowledge and understanding of textiles, give her a deep appreciation for the uniqueness of D. Porthault. Marc Porthault remains Chairman of the Board of Directors and continues to play a role in the life of the company. Joan Carl becomes Vice Chairman. Joan Carl’s dedication and passion infuse new dynamism into the prestigious house of D. Porthault.
The company builds in 2006 a state-of-the-art weaving, cutting and sewing factory outside of Cambrai, fifteen kilometers from Porthault’s original 1930′s facility in northern France. Porthault’s Paris boutique moves to no. 50 avenue Montaigne, the Duke of Lariboisière’s elegant 19th century hotel particulier transformed in 1922 by Georges de Feure and René Lalique for the couturière Madeleine Vionnet.
In 2009 Joan Carl is awarded one of France’s most prestigious honors, the Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur, in part for her work in restoring the house of D. Porthault.