Hand-embroidered Kashmir shawl mantle, 1870s
Fashioned from a hand-embroidered Indian Kashmir shawl, the brilliantly hued Victorian mantle is lined with red satin and trimmed with variegated chenille fringe. The mantle closes in front with concealed hooks. The star-shaped center of the shawl (3rd picture down) is strategically placed on the upper back.
In the mid-late 19th century, when machine woven European copies of imported Kashmir shawls dominated the fashion scene, costly handmade originals were still imported for wealthy customers. While the colors and patterns of machine woven shawls are exquisite, they do not have the textural quality found in handmade examples.
When styles changed from the wide hoop skirts and voluminous shawls of the 1860s to the bustle dress and shaped mantle of the 1870s, these beloved shawls were incorporated into the new fashion.
As an alternative to the cloak, a mantle might be little more than sleeved cape or a coat-shaped garment. Often, as in the case our sumptuous shawl, mantles were made from richer materials than were coats.
The hauntingly beautiful star-shaped motif is certainly the most dramatic element in the design. The back is shaped with princess line seams that form deep pleats over a protruding bustle.
The condition is almost excellent. There is slight abrasive wear on the lining at the collar and waist—see the bottom picture of the collar.
It measures: approximately 36" bust, 40" waist, 54" hip, and 39" from the shoulder to the hem, including the fringe.