I would like to bring you back to the Seventeenth century, in the Hungarian territory, that at that time was a part of the Turkish empire.
Among the countless uniforms, which distinguished the various tribes and levels of the society, we can already see the presence of embellishments, normally stitched on tunics or caftans, made with trims, braids or tassels.
Only after a long period, the Hungarian people could stand up and drive out the Turks. But after this domination, the territory was included under the Habsburg authority.
During this long domination, the influences that affected the customs and created a new daily life, were the most disparate. We should not forget that various royal Habsburg figures were married into french monarchy too (Maria Theresa was married with Francis 1st of Lorraine and her youngest daughter, Maria Antonia – the future Marie Antoinette – was married to king Louis XIV of France).
From this time we can find a considerable effect of the French culture in this area: the French rises a court language; in every aristocratic family there is a french tutor, at least with french origin. Also in the architecture, the style of Versailles becomes a model to follow.
As you can good understand, the word “fashion” and “trend” has not been coined in our days. And as a wave of a cloth, the various leanings or traditions coming from the various cultures, match together to form the structure of the social woven.
Now, to come back to our topic, the art of the “Passementiers” was created in France, in the 16th century. It was considered quite an art.
The tassel, was its primary expression and in this area of Europe, they were originally an ornament, a casual termination of a cord to prevent unraveling with a knot. Tassels included also fringes, ornamental cords, galloons, pompons, rosettes, and gimps – thread used for upholstery trimming – as other form. According to the form, there were point ornaments (tassels, pompons, rosettes), and linear ornaments (all the other).
The French brought these works out of their country. All the Europe appreciated this art, and no other nation developed a similar “trimming” industry. Tassels changed style throughout the years, and became more and more elaborate.
For many time the clothing with these passementeries were reserved to elites as a sign of social distinction, among royalty, aristocracy, religious and military, as mentioned before by the description of the Turkish uniforms.
Also the wide Russia belongs to this trend. It is easy to recall the imagines of the czarina/czar court, that for a long period I have connected with the page of the great and immortal novel of Tolstoj “War and Peace”. The uniforms of the Hussar Cavalry, with their black tricks on the purple red jackets, with their galloons and ornamental cords, are the key images I am speaking about.
But you know that for the Design, as for the Architecture or for the Fashion, there are cycle that updates the same old and vintage things. For the same law, and after a decline of the production of these products in the middle of the the 20th century, the last years of the 1900s has seen a resurgence in interest, maybe led by film industry’s designers.
Nowadays an always increasing number of European and American artisans have started doing this art again. The products are not simple “trimmings” anymore, but are become real jewels.
I have made these few references wth the main aim to make it comprehensible how the way a country lives, the things a people loves, the specific “art” of which a territory holds the leadership, are still alive witness of the past. In conclusion, all the traditions are the results of events happened before the present, that incise and make history.
Given that I love going to the research of these small “Soutache history”, if you will have the pleasure to follow me, I would like to take this theme again, with more and deeply details.
See you soon.