”Elaborate Embroidery- Fabrics for Menswear before 1815” exhibition at the MET

Embroidery sample for a man's suit, 1800–1815. French. Silk embroidery on silk velvet; L. 13 1/4 x W. 11 1/8 in. (33.7 x 28.3 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York,
Embroidery sample for a man’s suit, 1800–1815. French. Silk embroidery on silk velvet; L. 13 1/4 x W. 11 1/8 in. (33.7 x 28.3 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York,

This installation features lengths of fabric for an unmade man’s suit and waistcoat, as well as a selection of embroidery samples for fashionable menswear made between about 1760 and 1815.

During this period, France was the undisputed epicenter of the European fashionable world, and professional embroidery workshops there produced a dizzying array of colorful designs from which a man could choose. The installation features a copy of L’Art du Brodeur (The Art of the Embroiderer), which was published in Paris in 1770. This book contains detailed descriptions about subjects such as preparing fabric to be embroidered and the variety of threads used in a workshop, as well as illustrations of designs for men’s suits.

Seen together, the fabrics and the book provide a glimpse into the world of vividly colored and highly decorative fashion that was a key component of an upper-class European man’s life in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

(February 2–July 19, 2015)

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