Tassels: the return of luxury trimmings

The tassel. What we may think of now as a humble little decoration turns out to be steeped in history and implication. Can you imagine spending days, weeks, months creating a single tassel? Once an artform, the tassel and its connotation of luxury returns as the adornment du jour, a 2011 fashion trend that offshoots from the military and historical influences of seasons past.

Read on as we take a deeper look into this little decorative gem.

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Tassel dress pucci ss11
Tassel trim at Pucci SS11

Click the thumbnails for full pictures:
With all the trimmings: fashion inspiration
With all the trimmings: fashion inspiration
With all the trimmings: fashion inspiration
With all the trimmings: fashion inspiration
With all the trimmings: fashion inspiration
With all the trimmings: fashion inspiration
With all the trimmings: fashion inspiration
With all the trimmings: fashion inspiration
With all the trimmings: fashion inspiration
With all the trimmings: fashion inspiration
With all the trimmings: fashion inspiration
With all the trimmings: fashion inspiration
With all the trimmings: fashion inspiration
With all the trimmings: fashion inspiration
With all the trimmings: fashion inspiration
With all the trimmings: fashion inspiration
With all the trimmings: fashion inspiration
With all the trimmings: fashion inspiration
With all the trimmings: fashion inspiration
With all the trimmings: fashion inspiration
With all the trimmings: fashion inspiration
With all the trimmings: fashion inspiration
With all the trimmings: fashion inspiration
With all the trimmings: fashion inspiration
With all the trimmings: fashion inspiration
With all the trimmings: fashion inspiration
With all the trimmings: fashion inspiration
With all the trimmings: fashion inspiration
With all the trimmings: fashion inspiration

Tassels: a symbol of luxury

If you think of tassels only as a furniture trimming, think again. Tassels originated thousands of years ago and throughout their history were used as symbols of status: both military rank, and religious order. In 16th and 17th century France passementerie, the art of tassel making, was a booming one, with ornate handmade tassels representing wealth and power: no palace interior was complete without silk tassels dripping from its rich brocade curtains and velvet cushions. But once the 20th century rolled around and moderation became the new aesthetic, the days of ostentatious trimmings faded sadly away.

Now, in a time of global instability and flux, we return to luxury. But as we see it, luxury as craftsmanship. It may be in the minimal yet beautifully crafted aesthetic that’s prominent right now, or it may be in a little ornament, the tassel, that carries connotations of opulence – but that sits well and truly on the opposite side of glitzy. So when it comes to investing in pieces with tassel detailing, quality is key: a well-made tassel, be it silk or leather, carries that sense of luxury and authenticity.

The tassel in 2011

While it’s been a constant to see the odd, small tassel on leather accessories like handbags and purses, we’re now seeing them prominently – oversized, extra long, brightly coloured or made to stand out in some way. And it’s no longer just handbags: for Spring 2011 they’re on everything from shoes to dresses to belts and hats.

Tassel shoe topshop unique ss11Shoe tassel at Unique SS11

Ropes and tassels

Ropes and tassels are natural companions, so it follows that we’re seeing plenty of ropes being incorporated into both clothing and accessories. Rope detailing can either be very luxurious and exotic (see Gucci, below) or more to the nautical side, for example wedges or espadrilles with rope ties.

Tassel trend at gucci ss11Tassel detailing at Gucci SS11

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Some people's wardrobes are about a small selection of pieces that all fit within one aesthetic - Tania Braukamper isn't such a person. With a wardrobe that spans three different rooms, her approach to fashion is a mixture of current-season key pieces mixed with vintage finds she's sourced on innumerous shopping trips around the world's more cultured capitals. Despite a disparate approach to shopping, Tania is adamant that the key to mixing vintage with new season is to stick to key looks and colours that work for oneself. And it's a theory that she works into her writing for Fashionising.com, where she serves as the publication's Editor.