Jun 5, 2010

Les mouchoirs de cou - printed scarves

The printed cotton scarf has a long history as part of ladies' clothing in France and was for decades considered an indispensible wardrobe accessory. Called mouchoir de cou - neck scarf - the squares usually measured about 36-40" each side and were made of light-weight, fine-quality cotton. These scarves were usually folded in a triangle and worn around the shoulders like a shawl.
At the beginning of the 19th century, as the textile companies of Alsace came to international prominence, they sold the mouchoirs de cou by the hundreds. These printed cotton squares were produced using the newest colors and stunning designs in order to serve as both a bread-and-butter product and as a sample of what the company could produce.
Below are a few examples of the kinds of scaves that might have been found around the shoulders of genteel French women and young girls.

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