Embroidery from a Court Coat Silver Thread 1770 -1780
Silver thread hand-embroidered in a foliate pattern with silver pailettes on blue wool broadcloth. The total weight (mainly silver) is 29.8 ounces! The interior neckband is made from leather.
Embroidery, representing an enormous investment of labor, was all but ubiquitous on the suits of wealthy men in the 18th century. Even as popular styles simplified, the fashion for heavily embellished menswear would survive in royal courts well into the 19th century. To achieve such incredible designs often required a workshop of artisans, who embroidered the fabric before the coat pieces were cut - such a shop is illustrated in Diderot's 1751 Encyclopedie, showing the lengths of fabric stretched on hoops to be stitched. Once the pieces were embroidered, the customer could make his selection and have it sent to his tailor, to be cut out and made up into a perfectly fitted, custom-made suit in a matter of days.
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