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Posts Tagged ‘Dressed: The History of Fashion’

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Learn about the complex history of the Kashmir shawl at The Boteh Kashmir & Paisley exhibit on now at Lacis Museum of Lace and Textiles.

IMG_20180629_183815612Featured in this unassuming display are examples of both hand and machine woven shawls popular in Europe during the 18th and 19th centuries. The common shawl motif we know as paisley was originally referred to as boteh, a Persian word that means bush or shrub. Shawls began to appear in the eleventh century made from the fine underbelly hairs of the Himalayan goat. Using a twill weave, each shawl was handwoven and could take up to three years to complete.

In the 1700s these shawls became prized objects  when Kashmir royalty gifted them to occupying British officials. The fashion for Kashmir (cashmere) shawls among the wealthy in Britain and Europe created a demand impossible to fulfill.

Fast forward to the early 1800s when the Jacquard loom was created allowing for mass manufacturing of fabrics with intricate designs. The fashion for shawls, available only to the wealthy, could now also be enjoyed by middle-class Victorian women, although the quality must have varied.

IMG_20180629_184353649Lacis has hung the shawls on walls each with a magnifying glass to allow for an even closer look. Some of the collection is displayed on mannequins, which gives the viewer a good idea of how they were worn and why they were so popular, particularly during the fashionable hoop-skirt era. The fullness of the skirt is a perfect means for showing off one’s expensive shawl.

As you enter the exhibit there is an Introduction Label (museum speak), offering some history and general background. Along the way there are Object Labels with descriptions and dates of each shawl and illustrations of how women sported their shawls.

I recommend this exhibit to historians, textiles enthusiasts, weavers, costumers, anyone interested in fashion! The Boteh of Kashmir and Paisley is on now through February 2, 2019. Lacis Museum of Lace and Textiles, 2982 Adeline Street, Berkeley.

On a side note – the fashion history podcast Dressed: The History of Fashion recently posted an episode all about the shawl. For a detailed explanation of the history check out Cashmere With a ‘K’: The Controversial History of a Shawl.  (Not the most professional presentation, but still very informative.)

 

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