Sunday, January 11, 2009

Paisley - 1960s Design Icon

winter paisley mini dressImage by princess toadie via Flickr

The Paisley Design Checks In by Ryan Gilbert

The paisley design, once so prevalent in the 60's, is making a return to the fashion world. Sometimes called "Persian pickles" by American elders and quilt makers, paisley is a droplet-type motif that resembles a leaf of the mango tree. It has also been called "Welsh pears" in Wales as far back as 1888 by the textile manufacturers there and "cashmere" after the region of Kashmir where it originated.

It is one of the most recognized patterns in the world, originating in Persia (now Iran) but it's named for the Scottish town of Paisley. Illiterate villages in India long ago would use it as a symbol to tell people it was time to harvest the crops, inking the side of their fist and stamping the shape in places where people would notice it. The motif was used in the fifteenth century to decorate court garments and the interiors of royal domiciles.

Paisley never really fell out of fashion since it is considered a classic and goes with everything! Women's scarves and shawls in paisley patterns are everywhere, no matter the current fads, and paisley fads in upholstery, curtains and bedding come and go.

The Summer of Love in 1968 made paisley very popular in the twentieth century. It became identified with the psychedelic fad and was incorporated into art as well as clothing. Fender guitars produced a pink paisley Telecaster and John Lennon had a Rolls Royce that was custom painted in paisley.

Paisley was popular not only for its esoteric shape, said to represent death and rebirth, but for its sheer versatility. There were so many different color combinations; it could be bright and aggressive, mellow, or outrageously fashionable. Social climbers as well as hippies embraced it; teenagers wore it, as did their parents. Everyone was crazy about paisley and what wasn't to like? To the younger generation of rebels, it signified beauty and mystical meditation and the older generation liked its classic style that went with any accessory or separate wardrobe piece.

The paisley teardrop design was incorporated into flower patterns for clothing and curtains, it was embossed on formal invitations, tissue boxes bore its distinctive shape and just about everywhere you looked in the sixties and early seventies you saw something that used the paisley design. The shape, aside from its spiritual implications, was pleasing and versatile.

Jewelers have begun to see the possibilities in the paisley design, fashioning a variety of truly breathtaking jewelry in paisley shapes. They are producing paisley designs never before seen, of gold and silver with dazzling precious gemstones. A popular trend seems to be emerging of placing flower patterns within the teardrop paisley shape that produces some truly awe-inspiring pieces.

The paisley necktie is, thankfully, making a comeback among well-dressed men. Women's fashions are using the motif to bring back classic styles of clothing such as the evening and casual sheath dress, the shawl and the casual scarf worn as an accent. Paisley is the perfect vehicle for this project. High-end designers are creating leisure clothing in paisley patterns as well as evening clothes sewn with sequins and beads, bringing the beloved paisley pattern into the world of high fashion and penthouse couture.

Whether you would like a vintage or modern look for your home, your accessories, your checkbook cover or even your car's upholstery, paisley will fill the need with elegance and beauty. With its nearly universal appeal, the return of this beautiful, versatile pattern has been welcomed by all ages. Those that loved it in decades past are glad to see it back and young people who have been largely unaware of it love the way they can shape it to fit into their own unique style.

You can all ways find Paisley design bank checks and hundreds of other styles by visiting They offer Checks Unlimited and a one stop place to order checks for your home or business needs. Try them today!

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