The rise of (the) Paisley

4 April 2019

Original Paisley pattern used for The Paisley from Paisley Hermès Spring/Summer 2019 collection from the Paisley Museum press release.

From humble beginnings, the pattern has come to be a staple of fashion collections across the globe

On 1 March many websites and newspapers shared the news that Hermès, the world-renowned French fashion house, is collaborating with the town of Paisley.

The “Paisley from Paisley” collection has since been available in Hermès stores and online. The collection’s silk scarves are currently sold out online. The collection also includes bracelets which are selling for £530 and £480 on the website.

The collaboration was a huge success for the town west of Glasgow which is famous for manufacturing the iconic patterned garments. The droplet shaped pattern is Persian in origin, however Paisley weavers perfected it in the 18th and 19th centuries and it has been a popular pattern ever since.

The original and largest textile collection of the pattern belongs to Paisley Museum, which is currently under construction. It is set to reopen in 2022 after a £42 million transformation, according to a press release from the Renfrewshire Council.

Until the reopening, the world’s largest paisley shawl collection is rolled up in the town’s Secret Collection, including the original patterns bought by Hermès. The first publicly accessible museum storage facility of its kind, the Secret Collection houses a wide variety of artefacts. They are organised by collection category including natural history, culture, textiles, and paintings. Visitors can book guided tours and learn more about the items and their history before the collections are taken back to the museum.

Original Paisley pattern used for Paisley from Paisley Hermès Spring/Summer 2019 collection from the Paisley Museum press release.

Chris Hunt, owner of Genuine Scotland and founder of Scotland Re:Designed said:

“It is wonderful to know the collections are available to be viewed for research and inspiration by academics or local school children in ways which simply were not possible before given how delicate they are, and also that for the benefit of Paisley itself they are available under license in exchange for negotiated contracts, which is a major step forward in terms of helping the town realise it’s unique assets, and contribute to the town and projects like the UKIERI (UK & India) economic and cultural development exchange programmes.”

Hunt is the connection between Paisley and Penny Martin, editor-in-chief of The Gentlewoman, who visited the town and contacted Hermès about the unique textiles found in the museum.

Although we could not interview Dr Dan Coughlan, textiles curator at Paisley Museum, he said the following in a press release:

“The fine silk gauzes and figured muslins of the 18th century, followed by the 19th century shawl, were in demand in all the fashion circles of Europe. Much of the legacy of this great textile tradition is now preserved in Paisley Museum. This collaboration shows the extraordinarily rich and varied collection can be used by today’s designers to continue Paisley’s tradition of creating beautiful high-quality textiles with provenance, while raising awareness of the town’s internationally-significant story.”

Louisa Mahon, head of marketing and communications at Renfrewshire Council, was happy to share her thoughts on the news: “It is wonderful to think that nearly 200 years since they were first created, these marvels of 19th century innovation and design are still in high demand and being used to fuel a resurgence in Paisley’s profile, reputation and fortunes.”

The hugely celebrated paisley pattern has made many appearances at New York, London and Paris fashion weeks over the years. After news of the Hermès collaboration with Paisley broke, people expressed their excitement through press releases and social media. The pattern has also been seen decorating many clothing items featured in Paris Fashion Week’s 2019 autumn/winter collections.

Several brands showed that the paisley pattern is here to stay for another season, including the designer, Rokh, who used the famous pattern for some of his looks.

Rokh at the British Vogue photo gallery.

Rokh at the British Vogue photo gallery.

Altuzarra also created a spectacular collection this year where every look included at least one item with the paisley pattern.

Altuzarra at British Vogue photo gallery.

Altuzarra at British Vogue photo gallery.

Diane von Furstenberg even included the pattern in her head-to-toe paisley look.

Diane von Furstenberg at British Vogue photo gallery.

The last time the pattern had an outstanding appearance was in 2011 as part of a Topman collection. Since then it has been used by many luxury and fast fashion brands, including Vivienne Westwood’s 2017 autumn/winter collection.

The Hermès collaboration is a celebration of the original Paisley designs and it definitely benefits the town and Scotland’s heritage.

After making an appearance in several runway collections, it is likely that many luxury and fast fashion brands will take inspiration from catwalk shows and release paisley patterned pieces for high street customers.

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