Author: Susan Brown

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shawl border
Passion for Exotic Fashion
When Napoleon presented Josephine with a shawl that had been given to him on his Egyptian campaign (1798–1801), he started a fashion craze that lasted half a century and had major economic impacts on several nations. Fashionable ladies wearing the extremely lightweight Neoclassical gowns of the period went wild for the soft, beautiful and very...
liturgical gloves
Gloves for a feast
Liturgical gloves are permitted to be worn by the Pope, Archbishops, or Cardinals on special feast days or for processions. Almost all of the surviving examples in museum collections are of knitted silk, and many are ornamented on the back of the hand with a knitted or embroidered IHS monogram in gold. The sunburst monogram...
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Two Squares
By the mid-nineteenth century, both Glasgow, Scotland and Manchester, England were producing huge numbers of bandannas, printed cotton handkerchiefs imitating earlier tie-died silk handkerchiefs from India. The success of that industry was the result of perfecting two chemical processes: the so-called Turkey Red process for dying cotton a brilliant, washable red, and discharge printing, a...
ASAFO Flag, before 1957
Beware of Armed Women
Among the Fante people of coastal Ghana, small local militias known as Asafo play an important role in community and political life. Rivalries among the Asafo companies are common, and many flags are specifically designed as challenges or insults to rival companies. Others are based on proverbs, with subtle references to local events or personalities....
Dark green ground appliquéd with a dark brown layer. Large areas of the brown layer have been cut away and are stitched to the ground fabric in a stylized floral pattern using bright red thread.
Inspiration and Production
In 2004, the Museum commissioned Hella Jongerius to create a series of ten textiles, collectively titled Sampler Blanket, in conjunction with her Collection Selects exhibition. Each work in the show was inspired by designs found on historic samplers in the Museum’s Textile collection, which includes over 1,000 examples of embroidered samplers from all over the...
Length of digitally printed silk with layered pomegranate-like forms creating an abstract pattern of intersecting circles, in subtle shades of tan and taupe.
Digital Silk
Hitoshi Ujiie is a textile designer as well as educator and founder of the Center for Excellence in Digital Inkjet Printing at Philadelphia University. Ujiie’s work is an exploration of the aesthetic implications of digital inkjet printing for textiles, which is bringing about profound changes in the approach to design for this medium. Working from...
A man's conical cap with turned up cuff of off-white linen, embroidered in a pattern of rainbows hovering over clouds with rain falling on snails and caterpillars, in blue, green, yellow, red and pink silk and silver metallic threads.
A Little Nightcap
This embroidered nightcap represents a type of hat worn by English men beginning around 1550. It was appropriate for any time of day despite its name, and men wore it informally at home but not while sleeping. A man would have rarely worn an embroidered nightcap in public, yet some appeared in elite portraiture. Headwear...
Man's coat of blue and black patterned silk with large-scale floral embroidery in polychrome silks at the center front edges, back vent, pocket flaps and sleeve cuffs, with matching covered buttons. Modern machine-lace at cuffs.
Maintaining a Pleasant Atmosphere
This coat, called an habit, embodies aristocratic extravagance before the French Revolution. The habit was worn as part of the habit à la française, an early three-piece suit which also included a waistcoat (vest) and breeches. The embroidery is dense with large-scale flowers, scalloped ribbons, and tassels on a silk fabric woven with a pattern...
Unlined drawstring bag with two different macrame knots used to produce a diagonal grid-like pattern with diamond-shaped clusters of of tiny balls, in gold and silver metallic yarns.
The Power of the Purse
In Elizabethan England (1558 – 1603), elaborate purses were often used to parcel gifts, and this lustrous purse may have been intended as a luxurious gift wrap. At New Year’s, for example, higher nobles and bishops were obliged to present Queen Elizabeth with gold coin-filled purses as a sign of their gratitude and loyalty to...