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Title:man's suit
Date Made:1770-1785
Materials:textile: maroon, green, and off-white cisele (cut and uncut) silk velvet, linen, cotton, wool interfacings; wooden buttons
Place Made:France
Measurements:overall: 39 1/2 in.
Accession Number:  HD F.147
Museum Collection:  Historic Deerfield

Man's court suit consisting of a coat, waistcoat, and breeches woven-to-shape (known in France as tisse en forme) in cisele silk velvet with floral and diaper patterns of losenges in tan, lavender, green, and black..Technical innovations in the silk industry centered in Lyon, France, reached an astonishing level of sophistication in the 1730s and 40s. The concept of weaving a garment in the pattern pieces with the ornamention "en disposition" (woven to shape) was perfected. Even with a complicated textile such as this silk velvet with its cut and uncut pile, the floral border along the front of the coat and the waistcoat was completely set up before it was woven on the draw-loom. This was made 50 years before the invention of the famous 'jacquard' loom invented in 1801 by Joeph Maria Jacquard (1752-1834), which transformed the textile industry with looms that could 'read' punched cards and weave patterns of incredible complexity with relative speed. This suit is one of only four known complete examples. It would have been costly (cisele silk velvet is one of the richest woven textiles ever used for male fashion) and elegant, and society would understand that the wearer was an important man. The earliest examples of silk velvet are from China, and it is believed to have been invented during the Han Dynasty (205BC-220AD). Popular in Europe from th early 15th century, velvet reached its height of perfection during the 18th century in France. The coat has full skirts all around, with three open vents and pleats. There are green flowers in the velvet down the front closure and on the pocket flaps. There are eleven small, rounded self fabric covered buttons down the front, as well as four under each pocket flap and above and below skirt vents. The waistcoat has cisele velvet in front, a linen back, and silk lining. It has long skirts and three open vents. There is also a green floral design in the velvet along the front closure. There are ten self fabric covered buttons down the front (two missing) with a corresponding twelve worked buttonholes. The breeches are cisele velvet and lined in linen. There is a fall front closure. The rest of the front closure consists of three self fabric buttons on the waistband and two more buttons in a hidden placket under the fall front. The back of the waistband is able to be tightened with a buckle and strap. There are bone buttons on the front and back of the waistband (for suspenders?). Each leg closes with five buttons and a knee band. The lining is linen with buckram interfacing. The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston has a poratrait of French sculptor Jean-Jacques Caffieri (1725-1792( by Adolf Ulric Wertmuller and dated 1784, which shows the sitter in a suit with a similar fabric pattern and cut. The white satin facing of the coat and waistcoat are modern.

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