Man's Waistcoat

  • Circa 1750
  • Front: Brocaded liseré Gros de Tours, blue silk, polychrome silk thread, silver thread. Lining: cream silk twill. Back: cream cotton satin, wooden buttons covered with silver thread. Woven design for a waistcoat.
  • GAL 2013.1.1
  • Acquired by the City of Paris
  • Palais Galliera, musée de la Mode de la Ville de Paris

This waistcoat is one of a group of four similarly decorated items, one of which, formerly belonging to Claude Lamoral II (1685–1766), Prince of Ligne and the Holy Roman Empire, is also part of the Galliera collection. It offers a scaled-down version of the textile decoration of the others: the foliage behind the simplified floral pattern is less dense, being figured only with silver thread, and the polychrome silk threads are less varied. In contrast with the others, it has no sleeves, but was still a luxury item reserved for Europe's elite.

A comparison of these two waistcoats from the Galliera collection is vital to the history of 18th-century fashion. It provides tangible proof that there were several levels of circulation for prestigious textile designs, which could be adapted, not to say copied, for clients of different standings. It raises the question of textile piracy  between European silk centres and proves that the aristocracy of the time was not reluctant to wear similar, prestigious garments that were certainly part of the world of fashion: a European fashion world in which, implicitly, France was not always the master.

Notice's author : Pascale Gorguet-Ballesteros