Passementerie

 

Generals

If Karen’s main Weaving Today post left you pondering the meaning of passementerie you’re in luck. Today’s BeWeave it is dedicated to the subject.

Passementerie is a very general term that refers to a variety of trimmings including braid, cord, embroidery, colored silks, tassels, pom-poms, or a number of other options. One of the first styles was probably the tassel. Initially, tassels were both decorative and functional: they served the purpose of keeping cords from raveling with a knot. Later, tassels became valued more for their aesthetic appeal.

In the 1500s the Guild of Passementerie was founded in France. While these embellishments may sometimes seem like simple work, the guild members took it very seriously, in some cases requiring a seven-year apprenticeship before one could become a master. Of course, the trimmings they made were more than simple braids or tassels.

The French mastered the art of passementerie and soon dominated the European market. Their work was so elaborate and beautiful, and their prices so reasonable, other countries didn't bother competing. Initially, as with many fancy ornamentations and techniques, passementerie were reserved for the nobility, high-ranking military officers (as can be seen in the portraits of some French officers, above, and of Marie Antoineete, below), and important religious officials.

Over time, fashions were simplified and the need for elaborate ornamentations such as these diminished. Later, many of these decorations could be made cheaply and easily in factories, and so the need for passementerie makers eventually disappeared.

Today, passementerie are still around. You can find them used for home decorations (as with Karen and her window treatments), on various dress military uniforms from around the world, and on clothing. There has also been a recent upswing in demand for artisan-made passementerie, so some of the old techniques for making these beautiful embellishments are

Marie Antoinette

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