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Dress fabric

Dress fabric

  • Place of origin:

    France (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1700 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Woven silk, damask brocaded, gold and silver thread

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Object Type
This length of woven silk was intended for clothing. Such a pattern might have been chosen for a woman's gown or a man's waistcoat or nightgown, worn informally at home; traces of pleats here indicate this piece was used for a petticoat or skirt. The complexity of its woven structure would have made it expensive. Its bold pattern and distinctive colouring date it to a fairly brief period around 1700 when such a combination was highly fashionable.

Dress silks from France began to dominate fashionable taste across Europe from the 1660s. The Minister of Finance, Jean-Baptiste Colbert (1619-1683), regulated the French textile industry to reduce the variety and improve the quality in each regional weaving centre. This was intended to help the centres compete against foreign imports, and to prevent their competing against each other. Lyon was the centre for the most complex and luxurious of the patterned silks. This example was probably woven there.

Design & Designing
In the late 17th and early 18th centuries the increasing import trade and other contacts between Asia and Europe greatly influenced the design of fashionable silks such as this. As well as the textiles themselves in clear, bright colours, other goods such as porcelain and lacquer lent shapes and motifs to the silk designers' repertoire. Books on natural history were a source for illustrations of unfamiliar flowers and fruit, fish, birds and other creatures.

Physical description

Panel of woven silk. Damask ground brocaded in silk, gold and silver thread, stylised flower pattern.
Old creases at the top suggest this panel once formed part of a skirt.

Place of Origin

France (made)


ca. 1700 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Woven silk, damask brocaded, gold and silver thread


Length: 111 cm, Width: 54 cm

Object history note

An example of the 'bizarre' silks produced around this date and characterised by their large-scale undulating patterns, often incorporating surreal elements, and stylised flowers.

Descriptive line

Panel of silk damask, France, ca. 1700





Subjects depicted

Floral patterns


Textiles; Clothing; Europeana Fashion Project


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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