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Women's scarfs of the 18-19th centuries

Sunday, 26 October 2008

WomenScarf has been the favourite ladies' accessory since the 18th century. Initially, in fashion there were big headscarfs made from cambric - fine, but solid, translucent material, similar to gas. Their ends were fastened under a cutout edge, or placed between a lace corsage, thereby creating the impression of a high bust. It was a necessary skill for the beauties of that time - to correctly tie a headscarf so that it slightly opened at inhalation, inadvertently showing to the cavalier the dignity of a deep décolleté, and returned to its original position at exhalation, making the owner of the headscarf look like a modest woman.

Often enough, this accessory was decorated with white embroidery on white that is done with linen threads. It was popular for a house or morning dress. A scarf was also important for a walking dress. Gradually, the material was replaced by needle lace or bobbin lace. However, by the end of the century, during the days of Marie Antoinette's rule, cambric came back again into fashion. At the turn of the 18-19th centuries, big woollen or pashmina (the underfur of mountain goats) shawls came into fashion. They were produced in Kashmir (Northern India) starting from the 15th century. In Europe, Napoleon Bonaparte brought such shawls when he made a trip to Egypt as a gift to his wife Josephine de Beauharnais. At that time, this perfectly supplemented the fashionable superfine muslin dresses with high waistline.

Probably, not only the amazing beauty of ornament and softness contributed to the growing popularity of these shawls, but also that the empire dresses were very cold inspite of all their attractive lightness and transparency. The climate of Paris is still somewhat different from the climate of the Ancient Greece imitators of which were French women. Doctors begged for this fashion to be banned, offering the ladies to go to the Per-Lashez cemetery and see how many pretty frivolous women died from cold because of that dress.

However, those women who were not willing to part with seductive dresses solved the problem easily and started keeping themselves warm with the help of warm shawls. At that time, on many portraits it was possible to see beautiful samples of this accessory. In the early 1820-s, fashion magazines recommended chequered Scottish cashmere shawls and black shawls with a colour fringe. In the 30-s of the 19th century, headscarfs, scarves made of transparent materials that are interweaved with gold or silver pattern, as well as mantilla made from black lace, relied on ball dresses. While fashion ladies adorned themselves with weightless scarfs, spidery laces, the merchant women preferred wearing headscarfs of very flashy colours. Bright colours were valued: red, blue and pale yellow.

A gorgeous shawl is an indispensable supplement of the merchant women's attire in the paintings of Kustodiev, Malevich and Makovsky. After all, a silk scarf-square (most often Hermes) up till now, is an indispensable attribute of a successful business woman. As in the 19 century, they are very expensive, but they are worth their cost.

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