In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, a lace cap with a pair of long streamers was a popular headdress for women. The most fashionable cap streamers were made of delicate bobbin or needle lace. These cap streamers or lappets were sometimes pinned up, but often they hung loose about the sides or back of the head. Early cap streamers generally had straight sides and square ends while later versions had scalloped sides and rounded ends. A large number of cap streamers survive in museum collections today as they were detached from their original caps and saved as lace was a most costly fashion accessory. In the nineteenth century, many historical fashions experienced revivals, and cap streamers underwent their own reinterpretation in the middle part of the century. The updated version, known as a fall cap, was made as a single piece of lace – the central cap and streamers were in one continuous form. Cooper Hewitt’s fall cap is made of black silk Chantilly-type bobbin lace that uses two common bobbin lace stitches: the “fond simple” for the ground and a half-stitch for filling the pattern areas. A raised “gimp” is used to outline the design, which has floral medallions surmounted by scrolling acanthus leaves and a slightly scalloped edge of scrolls and flowers. As black lace was fashionable over several decades of the nineteenth century, this fall cap would have been a stylish accessory.
- Fall cap, silk bobbin lace, 19th century, France, Gift of Louise Goldsmith, 1942-71-1