Soie Pirate

Soie Pirate

The History and Fabric Designs of Abraham Ltd.

This two-volume set tells the story of Abraham Ltd., one of the most famous companies in Switzerland’s silk trade.


  • Out of Print


Title Information

Edited by the Swiss National Museum

1st edition

, 2010

Text English and German

2 volumes, hardback in slipcase

424 pages in total, 556 colour and 88 b/w illustrations

24 x 32.5 cm

ISBN 978-3-85881-725-9


Textiles are one of Switzerland’s oldest industries, and one of the biggest names in Switzerland’s silk trade has been Abraham Ltd. Soie Pirate draws from the vast archives that are now kept at the Swiss National Museum in Zürich to document the fascinating history of this influential enterprise. The first volume tells the firm’s story, from 1878, when Jakob Abraham became a partner in the Zürich-based business Königsberger, Rüdenberg & Co., to 1943, when Gustav Zumsteg became a partner, through the company’s mid-twentieth-century heyday, and finally to 2002, the year Abraham Ltd. ceased operations. Along the way, readers are introduced to a host of fascinating people, including Zumsteg’s mother, Hulda Zumsteg, who ran the legendary Kronenhalle restaurant in downtown Zürich. The second volume presents illustrations of the designs, patterns, and samples of the fabrics produced by Abraham Ltd. but also images of the elegant dresses created from their fabrics—dresses from such couturiers as Cristobál Balenciaga, Coco Chanel, Christian Dior, Hubert de Givency, Yves Saint Laurent, and Emanuel Ungaro. The volumes are illustrated with more than five hundred color and black-and-white images, and together they bring to life a chapter in the history of fashion worldwide.

The book was published to coincide with an exhibition at the Swiss National Museum in Zürich. With essays by Matthias Georg, Joya Tiziana Indermühle, Tanya Karrer, Barbara Keller, Isabel Koellreuter, Bettina Köhler, Elke Mürau, Daniele Muscionico, Michelle Nicol, Sigrid Pallmert, Christian Spies, Juri Steiner, Karin Wälchli, and Martin Widmer.


Soie Pirate was named one of 2010’s Most Beautiful Swiss Books and won a silver medal in the 2012 German Design Award.


Designed by Tania Prill and Alberto Vieceli.


Volume 1 and volume 2 are also available separately.


Deutsche Ausgabe

Authors & Editors

Matthias Georg

Joya Tiziana Indermühle

Tanya Karrer

Barbara Keller

, geographer and has been curator of exhibitions at the Swiss Alpine Museum since 2011.

Isabel Koellreuter

Bettina Köhler

Elke Mürau

Daniele Muscionico

Michelle Nicol

Sigrid Pallmert

 (1957–2012) has been curator of textiles, costume, jewelery, and toys at the Swiss National Museum / Landesmuseum Zürich.

Heiner Spiess

Juri Steiner

, born 1969, studied art history, German literature, and philosophy at University of Zürich. He lives and works is a freelance publicist and curator in Switzerland. He was Director of Zentrum Paul Klee in Bern 2006–10.

Karin Wälchli

Martin Widmer