|Day Dress of Silk, Velvet and Passementerie|
1855-1857The Victoria & Albert Museum
Passementerie—the art of making or applying elaborate trimmings—is the heart of this woman's day outfit with its dramatic cascade of the sorts of trimmings-- fringe, braid, gimp, ribbon, tassels and cord--which were so fashionable when this dress was made around 1855.
At the time, most fashionable garments combined passementerie with applied bands of velvet, complementing the color and texture of the dress. Take, for example, the fringe on this bodice/ It is comprised of strands of black hand-knotted silk with “poms” of brown chenille inserted to create a tufted look. Identical fringed trimmings on the skirt flounces must have created the effect of rippling waves as the wearer walked.
Passmenterie was also employed heavily in interior design at the time. So, picture a woman in the dress surrounded by a fringed and tasseled interior. She must have blended right in.