As with many refined and still sought after textile practices, the survival and development of passementerie was intertwined with the survival of their makers. Many passementiers in the 1600s were French Protestant Huguenots who, on being forced to flee France, took their skills and tools with them, consequently transforming the skill base available in London.
At this point it is important to emphasize that passementerie was for both clothing and furnishing, precious garments and upholstery would have been trimmed, edged or gallooned. However, it was not until the late seventeenth century – when both clothes and furnishings took on an altogether more extravagant style – that demand and therefore passementerie industry properly grew. It in fact was not until the Napoleonic wars, in the nineteenth century, that the ribbon industry saw a set back, when the skilled workforce were called to fight. Although it may well have been a war that halted the ribbon industry’s ascent, the use of passementerie in military adornment proved to be, and arguably still is, a crucial life line for passementeriers.Today the craft is still dominated by French artisans, such as Paris Passementerie (illustrated here and one of the few passementiers who still make everything by hand) or in the not-so-distant past Coco Chanel. However there are a handful of practioners in the UK such as Jessica Light, Watts of Westminster and of course V V Rouleaux who maintain this rich traditional craft. ••• Paris Passementerie 1 Rue Condorcet, 75009 Paris Credit all images: PARIS PASSEMENTERIE, photographed by Thomas Straub and styled by Nelson Sepulveda. Model: DEILA from Upmodels - Paris.
ERRATUM - SOMETIMES WE MAKE MISTAKES This article was originally published in issue 73 (the Decorative edition) of Selvedge, we were too late to correct our incorrect credits in the print edition so, to help make up for our error, we are publishing the correct version here and amending the digital edition. Apologies to Paris Passementerie and any confused readers!