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Handkerchief History

Thursday, 22 January 2009

handkerchief historyThe history of handkerchiefs, however, dates back thousands of years. The actors in the Ancient Rome in the II century AD. used white handkerchiefs playing comedies and satyrs. And the audience in the tribunes used to wave the handkerchiefs during games.

In the Middle Ages ladies presented men with their handkerchiefs to show their favor. Decorated with luxury embroidery, silver and golden fibers and fringes, the handkerchiefs were practiced to perform church and coronation ceremonies. However, the bloom of vogue occurred during the Renaissance. And handkerchiefs had become an essential part of any upscale wardrobe.

That time Italy and Spain were standards of fashion for the rest Europe. The way the natives of Venice and Madrid wear was widely replicated throughout the world, however, experiencing some sea changes. And the whole costume depended on the cut and style.

Then women wore girdles, and to the XV century the fashion comes to the frame skirts - vertyugali. That affected the plasticity as well. Ladies almost lost their ability to move, constrained with their splendid attires from golden velvet decorated with gold laces and precious stones. Besides, such a concept as etiquette appears with establishment of the world states and royal houses.

There was the system of signs to express this or that wish, and one of the elements of this system was a handkerchief.

This is not only an expensive accessory but also the symbol of wealth. The point is that handkerchiefs were produced from the rather expensive and very fashionable fabric, namely - lanolawn. It was the idea of a Venetian lady to cut a square out of pure flax and then decorate it with lace. She showed it to the people in a public garden, where the delicate handkerchief excited the general curiosity of the onlookers. Thus, the needle lacing was created. By time this technique was improved and new motives for embroidery appeared and were applied. And gradually, the entire Venice fell in love with these laced handkerchiefs which cost a fortune irrespective of widely use.

The history of handkerchiefs closely connected with the history of embroidery and lace. Therefore, when in the XVII century bobbin lacing got popular, the practice of making handkerchiefs by this technique was spread. This was the simpler and cheaper method of production, while outcome was more elegant. Nevertheless, this accessory was affordable to noble persons only.

The handkerchief is also an indispensable part of any stylish woman's wardrobe. Tastes of individuals at the end of the XVII-XVIII century dictated their style. They were oval, round or oblongate. And this trend was put to its end only in 1685 when the King Ludwig XIV decided that the «length of a handkerchief should be equal to its width which is effective in the territory of the whole kingdom". And since that time a small square piece of cloth remains the adopted form for handkerchiefs.

The fashion for handkerchiefs in America was quite similar to that in Europe. Love of colonial women to the square laced handkerchiefs is of the same effect as that of their cousins residing over the Atlantic Ocean. The fashion touched the linen, silky and laced handkerchiefs for both men and women. Quaker Women living in Pennsylvania were considered to have white handkerchiefs as a must accessory to complete a women costume.

Previously handkerchiefs were made from fine linolawn and decorated with embroidery by one and the same scheme, thus empty center of the handkerchief is framed by a wide fringe at edges. Combination of the satin stitch technique and open-work allow a variety of options to develop the pattern structures. Ornamental motives include combination of geometry and plant forms. The influence of the Eastern theme is seen in some models. Elegance of patterns and skilled performance are incident to all models. This time Europe experiences the real flourishing of linen pieces of work. 

When Napoleon came to power, Jozephina announced handkerchiefs in vogue. Taletellers said that the Empress held her laced handkerchief at her lips to show her disapproval when talking to unwelcome court.

Handkerchiefs with colorful trimming and trimmed corners at the edges were very popular in England. Primarily this fashion came from the Gothic. Young ladies had their pocket handkerchiefs trimmed with narrow piece of lace or colorful embroidery. The French considered handicraft embroidery or laces on handkerchiefs as the important element of every well-dressed styled woman. Reforming of dresses that took place in Germany vouched for production of any garment from wool, even handkerchiefs. This is the only case in history when such an accessory was manufactured in wool.

Handkerchiefs for men, as well as other men's costume garments, tend to get simpler and not so chick. While women liked handkerchiefs with embroidery and laces, men announced their decision towards contrary. Handkerchiefs were large, approximately of 40 cm with simple trimming at the edge and with occasional monogram in the corner. White linen was always respected in public, though fashion allowed some color to complete this accessory.

In the XX century when ready-made clothes got popular, handkerchiefs still were sorted for men and women. Handkerchiefs for men were larger in size and less elegant unlike those for women. In the second part of the XX century disposable cotton handkerchiefs were put to production that brought the centuries-old vogue to oblivion.

To the discerning gentleman and woman, the splash of color and style is classic, fashionable and functional. The handkerchief is truly a timeless accessory. 

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