Fashion, Style

The Fashion Alphabet


This feature is about a pattern that has been around for longer than I even anticipated. It is one of my favourites and has a rich history.

Today we take a brief look at…



Paisley pattern is the English term used to identify the boteh or buta, a droplet-shaped vegetable motif, born of Persian and Indian origin. The shape resembles a twisted teardrop; however, the English name derived from the town of Paisley, in West Scotland, a centre for textiles where paisley patterns were produced.

Paisley is considered to be the quintessential visual metaphor of Iran’s divided identity – divided between Arabic Islam and pre-Islamic Persian beliefs. The floral motif was originated in the Sassanid Dynasty and later in the Safavid Dynasty of Persia (1501 to 1736). It was also a key textile pattern in Iran during the Qajar and Pahlavi Dynasties. During these Dynasties, the paisley pattern was used to embellish royal regalia, crowns, and court attire, as well as materials used by the general population.

Amir Kabir (1807 – 10 January 1852) a chief minister from the Qajar period.
Amir Kabir (1807 – 10 January 1852) a chief minister from the Qajar period.

The paisley pattern is presently still prevalent in Iran and South and Central Asian countries. It is woven using gold or silver threads on silk or other high quality textiles for gifts, for weddings and special occasions. In Iran and Uzbekistan its use expands beyond clothing and includes paintings, jewellery, curtains, tablecloths even garden landscaping and a whole lot more.

Tiles from a Mosque in Iran between 1800-1899
Tiles from a Mosque in Iran between 1800-1899

Imports from the East India Company in the first half of the 17th century made paisley and other Indian patterns popular, to the point where the Company was incapable of importing enough to meet the demand. Local manufacturers in Marseilles took the opportunity to mass-produce the patterns via early textile printing processes at 1640, this was soon followed by England and Holland. This caused an extreme overflow in the production of the paisley pattern that the production and the import of the pattern was forbidden in France by royal decree from 1686 to 1759. However, the law enforcement toward the end of that period became careless, and France had its own printed textile manufacturing industry in place as early at 1746 in some areas.

In the 19th century the production of the pattern increased incredibly, particularly in the Scottish town from which the pattern takes its modern name. The design was copied from the costly silk and wool Kashmir shawls and adapted first for use on hand looms, and around 1820 on Jacquard looms.

From roughly 1800 to 1850, the weavers of the town of Paisley became the leading manufacturers of these shawls. Exclusive additions to their hand-looms and Jacquard looms allowed them to work in five colours as opposed to two colours like most weavers were producing at the time. It was around this time that the pattern coined its modern name.

The Beatles, who often publicly wore paisley shirts starting in 1966, thus leading to the paisley pattern becoming associated with the psychedelic movement. The pattern became so popular that Fender Guitars made a Pink Paisley version of their Telecaster guitar. In 1985, singing sensation Prince paid tribute to the rock and roll history of paisley when he created the Paisley Park Records Recording label and established Paisley Park Studios, both named after the track “Paisley Park“.

John Lennon seen wearing a paisley shirt
John Lennon seen wearing a paisley shirt

In terms of fashion, the use of paisley has risen and fallen in popularity since the 1960s. It is still seen till today and can be seen below in numerous different forms.

 00cf11fabc6e5b66f42410c51112017c 8b2979d19fb837541a0a57f8424045e0

Copyright © 2013 infinitas. Article Photo for Denim Jeans Observer All brands, product names, corresponding products, supplementary materials, graphic or photographic images, licenses, registered trademarks, trademarks and service marks are the property of their respective owners.



Share your thoughts and comments below!

Thanks VB xx

VB logo

Write a comment