Down On The Bayeux

Designers look back to the centuries-old technique of tapestry
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Bayeux Tapestry

One of the oldest forms of woven textiles, tapestry weaving has been practiced for hundreds of years in diverse cultures. From the ancient Egyptians to the ancient Greeks, tapestry was used for events of importance, such as burying the dead and decorating temples. This weaving technique reached its zenith in Europe between the 14th and the 18th centuries, when tapestries were seen as status symbols among the aristocracy, with popular depictions of battle scenes, myths, allegories, and Biblical stories.

It isn’t just some dead-and-gone art form though – tapestry has caught on again in recent years, surfacing on the runways of brands like Dolce & Gabbana and Valentino. And judging from the looks of the recent collections for Fall 2019 and Spring 2020, it won’t be going away anytime soon

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Dolce & Gabbana Fall 2012, Valentino Fall 2012

Never one to shy away from a print, Etro’s Fall 2019 collection wove tapestry patterns onto jackets and dresses, while Oscar de la Renta and Alexander McQueen also drew on tapestry for their designs

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Alexander McQueen Menswear Fall 2019, Etro Fall 2019, Oscar de la Renta Fall 2019

For the Spring 2020 menswear shows, Givenchy sent models down the runway in tapestry coats inspired by the 19th-century French poet Charles Baudelaire, while Lanvin’s poolside show referenced tapestry with intarsia knits of seascapes. And Gucci recently released an aptly-named Tapestry Backpack, with floral tapestry patterns embroidered on velvet lurex jacquard fabric

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Givenchy Menswear Spring 2020, Gucci Tapestry Backpack

So what’s with these tapestry throwbacks? Perhaps it has to do with the wider resurgence of crafts in general, from pottery to woodcraft to needlework. In our stressful, fast-paced lives dominated by digital and social media, crafts offer a perfect antidote to our screen-heavy, frenetic lifestyles, thanks to the focused and physical nature of such work. But if you aren’t quite ready to buy a loom yet, try wearing it first.  



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