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What is Chine`?

    For Christmas I received a book entitled ‘Fashion: The Collection of the Kyoto Costume Institute; A History from the 18th to the 20th Century.’

FASHION The Collection of the Kyoto Costume Institute, A history from the 18th to the 20th Century.

     As I have been reading through it, there have been a few terms that I had never heard of before. One of which is the word and definition of Chine` not to be confused with Chintz, or Chine` a` la Branche in French which refers to the process by which it is dyed. Groups or bundles “branches” of the warp threads are printed on before the threads are woven together. The end result is that of a watermark looking print, as if water was allowed to weep the dye up and down the fabric. Another characteristic of this print is that it is dominated by floral patterns where as the Japanese Hogushi-weaving, a type of Kasuri and Ikat (which I have heard of and is of India origins), is more likely to be of a geometric pattern. Also the Chine` patterns were mainly produced in pastel colors on a very fine silk taffeta material.

Dress (robe a` la Francaise) c. 1765 French. Light blue Lyons silk chine` with cartouche-enclosed floral motif; self fabric trim; double-flounced cuffs; matching stomacher and petticoat; engageantes of Alencon lace; lappets and bonnet of Argentan Lace. pg.57

     In its early production Europe had a difficult time making it so the fabric only came from French fabric houses, mainly Lyons and by early production I am talking late seventeen hundreds. To give you an idea of where in history this fabric came into vogue; Madame de Pompadour, one of fashion history’s most influential floozy’s, otherwise known as the mistress of King Louis the XV, made the fabric very popular because of her preference for it there by giving it the nick name Pompadour taffeta. Marie-Antoinette carried on the tradition of wearing the material. A Funny little fact is that Madame Pompadour’s full name was Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, Or The Marquise de Pompadour.

Francois Boucher; Artist, Madame de Pompadour (detail) 1759, The Wallace Collection, London, pg. 56

     Don’t you just love fashion History? A little note here, I have read and am still reading many terms and some are not all cohesive so if there is anyone who is an expert and runs across any information pertaining to these terms that does not jell with what I have found, please, please forward me anything and everything they know or have found. I will do my best to check into these and correct any misinformation of mine. There is just so much out there it is hard to get to some of the origins of things. Love the journey though.

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