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The Magazine

Art of Paisley: Travelling to the West

Chapter 4

Paisley landed in Europe in the mid-seventeenth century, after the East India Company’s trade expeditions. It was a triumph and conquered all classes of the population...

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There were those who saw it as a talisman to ward off bad luck, those who instead turned it into a symbol of rebellion, and those who were enthralled by its beauty, mystery, and the myriad of meanings it held within.

Demand was so high that soon imports were not enough, and so in France, England, and Holland, many artisans paved the way for the European production of decorated shawls.

In the nineteenth century, the most prolific town was Paisley, Scotland. In no time at all, its garments grew so famous that the pattern abandoned its original name, which was boteh, and adopted that of the city of the Scottish Lowlands.

Nevertheless, the finest shawls made in Europe were the ones that came from France, which were distinguished for the complexity of the pattern and the use of a high number of threads and colors. As taste and fashion evolved, and also thanks to the European productions that made them more accessible, shawls were transformed into capes, dresses, or precious housecoats.

Learn more about the history of Paisley.

This article in an excerpt from Etro’s monographic book.

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