Style Court

Nine Years of Textiles, Art History, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes

11.25.2013

A Touch of Kashmir


Fun fact: In France, circa 1810, patterned cashmere shawls were associated with weddings (a point made by author Monique Lévi-Strauss in Cashmere: A French Passion - 1800-1880). So luxe and in-demand were the textiles that they could be on par with jewels when it came to gifts from grooms to brides. For the the wedding procession of Napoleon and Marie-Louise, women in the entourage carried neatly folded shawls that contrasted with their very cleaned-lined empire dresses. And second wife Marie-Louise received seventeen cashmere wraps from the Emperor -- all French manufactured, I believe, because Lévi-Strauss explains that Napoleon's Continental Blockade of 1806 essentially barred the original, highly coveted Kashmiri shawls from entering the country. While probably frustrating Paris' best-dressed, the move launched a new French textile industry: fine, Indian-inspired cashmeres.

[Detail of mid-17th-century Kashmiri shawl from Musee Guimet pictured in Cashmere: A French Passion - 1800-1880]

Anyway, now as then, a little touch of dense jewel-tone paisley looks great against an expanse of solid pale, for a wedding or a room.

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