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Paisley: A Sophisticated Elegance Or An Age-old Pattern?

09 Aug 2022 0 Comments
paisley print fabric

Oscar Wilde, a famous author who favoured wearing paisley ties, waistcoats, and scarves, once said: "One should either be a work of art, or wear a piece of art." But have you ever wondered as to why is this pattern recognised as "paisley" in the English-speaking world if it is called "cachemir" in Spanish or "cachemire" in French?


This distinctive motif termed ‘Paisley’ has travelled a fascinating path from its ancient Indian and Persian roots, with its cryptic meanings and enigmatic symbolism. The paisley design has been seen on the scarves of cowboys and motorcyclists as it travelled the Silk Route from the East to the West. It was popularised by the Beatles and adopted by 19th-century bohemians, ushering in the hippie era and serving as a symbol of the dawn of rock 'n' roll.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, the East India Company imported textiles via the silk trade, and following the arrival of lavish shawls from Kashmir, the pattern swept the continent. The shawls were rapidly replicated across Europe, primarily in Paisley, Scotland. Consequently, it is recognised as such in the English-speaking world.

The Shape:-

The original Persian teardrop symbol resembles a floral bouquet and a cypress tree more than anything else. The seed design is also associated with Hinduism and is thought to signify fertility. It also has an intriguing affinity to the popular yin-yang symbol. It is still an immensely popular theme today in Iran and other South and Central Asian nations, where it is thought to have originated.

Paisley has survived because of the depth of symbolism and the rebellious vibe that surrounds it. The pattern's capacity to combine both conformity and disobedience, a deep sense of history with astonishing flexibility, and an openness to unending and unexpected revitalisation and reinterpretation may be the ultimate key to its longevity. The teardrop form is said to have originated from the fusion of floral themes with a cypress tree—the Zoroastrian emblem of eternity—and was previously known as "buta" or "boteh," meaning "flower bud" or "spray of leaves."

The Ultimate Comeback:-

Givenchy's Resort 2013 Collection included dresses and short coats with paisley designs, which are now seeing a rebirth in the pattern. The designers departed from their concept of a nomadic traveller's and gypsy woman's wardrobe and included pieces in silk red and blue paisley prints combined with graphic black and white geometric motifs evocative of the formal Bauhaus pictures.

Dresses, parallel pants, button-down shirts, blouses, and jackets with long sleeves that were slit to the shoulders giving the outfits a cape-like appearance. This combination was also used on accessories like giant totes with the paisley pattern in a considerable amount. In 1968, The Beatles started going to India on a regular basis, embracing its philosophy, music, and mainly, paisley clothing. The paisley pattern was frequently linked to disobedience; it was a declaration of non-conformity and a welcome change from the previous sombre fashion trends. It was the ideal print for the hippies' androgynous, hedonistic lifestyle.

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