New Uses for the Cashmere Shawl: 1910

Paisley shawl remade into a dress, coat and bag, 1889 Museum at FIT

The Cashmere Shawl.

A new use for the pine-patterned cashmere shawls that have been handed down from the great-grandmother to the modern woman is now found in covering handbags and the numerous variety of the vanity bag with this fascinating Indian fabric. The subdued richness of the coloring has a fascinating effect, and to bring the scheme of the contrasting hues into harmony with the rest of the dress it is modish to introduce perhaps a belt, covered with the patterned fabric or revers and cuffs of the like material on the coat.

To complete the bag very long handles or knotted silk cord are used, finished with corded fringe, and by way of variety some women are introducing here and there a touch of a glittering cabochon in barbaric colors.

The antique pine-patterned shawls that show signs of wear in one or two places can be thus used for a variety of purposes in the fashioning of accessories for the autumn toilet. The borders may be cut off and applied on the skirt of a cloth gown, or a short waistcoat may be introduced between the shawl like revers of an autumn coat of velvet.

Use for Paisley.

So popular was the old-time Paisley shawl last winter, in its various adaptations, that it seems quite impossible to conceive of any new ways of using the garment of our grandmother’s day. However, those who know predict the vogue of the Paisley muff as well as of the Paisley bag this winter.

Norwich [CT] Bulletin 13 October 1910: p. 4

House of Lanvin (French, founded 1889) Evening bag, 1925–35 French, silk, metal Silk, metallic; 14 in. (35.6 cm) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of the executors of the estate of Clara M. Blum in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Albert Blum, 1966 (2009.300.2543) http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/157382

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: The exotic patterns of the cashmere shawl have had many lives. Although Mrs Daffodil flinches at the very idea, one finds the massive shawls of the 1860s cut into mantles, visites, and even gowns, in the 1870s and 1880s.

Paisley shawl remade into a mantle, early 1870s, The John Bright Collection

1910 was a particularly good year for the paisley-revival.

Old Paisley Shawls Are Valuable.

The Paisley shawl is coming back into its own. In the old days the Paisley was one of the necessary units of every stylish outlay. After two generations the shawl’s vogue is returning. At present there is a decided fad for both cashmere and Paisley. It must be admitted, however, that it is the fabric and not the shawl itself which attracts. Paisley is now being substituted for leather in women’s handbags, card cases, belts and other novelties. The belts are especially popular. They are edged with patent leather and demand a good price at the stores which make a specialty of women’s wear. Even folding slippers are being made of Paisley. They are well adapted to travelers and very comfortable, although, as in the case of the belts, they are an expensive luxury.

Frank Leslie’s Weekly, 20 October 1910

Although Mrs Daffodil has not found an image of the historic shawl in this next article, she is grateful that Mr Thanhouser recognized its value before his mother chopped it into handbags or belts or it was sold to the rag collector.

TREASURE IN AN OLD TRUNK.

A Rare Paisley Shawl Worn at Victoria’s Coronation Found by Accident.

From the Milwaukee Sentinel.

A shawl valued at over $1,000 and worn by the great grandmother of Edwin Thanhouser, manager of the Academy theater at the coronation of Queen Victoria in 1838, was found the other morning by Mrs. Julia Thanhouser, the manager’s mother, in one of her old trunks which she had not rummaged in years. Mr. Thanhouser happened to be in the house when the garment was brought to light and knew at once that the piece of goods was of more than ordinary value.

This prize among shawls was made in Paisley, Scotland, and bought by Mrs. Bertha Emmonds, great grandmother of Mr. Thanhouser, in London, while attending the coronation of Queen Victoria, for which purpose she came from her home in Germany. At her death the shawl passed into the possession of Mr. Thanhouser’s grandmother, and fifteen years ago while his mother, the present owner, was living in Fort Wayne, Ind., it was given to her. Mr. Thanhouser had often heard his mother speak of the shawl, but it was not until he saw it that he realized what a valuable piece of goods it was.

Threads almost as fine as it is possible to spin them are the material of which the shawl is made, and there are so many colors and shades of colors that it is almost impossible to count them. The design is exceedingly intricate and was undoubtedly the result of considerable hard study. The shawl measures about 10 by 5 feet.

The Kansas City [MO[ Star 14 June 1902: p. 5


There was also a brief vogue for the fabric in the 1920s, and again, in the psychedelic ’60s. In 1964, a Norwich shawl gave its life for this lounge suit with a fashionable Nehru jacket.

Paisley “Nehru jacket” 1964 The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdote

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

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