Tassels, Fringe, and Pom-Pom Galore
These aren’t just for graduation caps and living room curtains anymore. They are everywhere! Few people know that tassels have a long history of ornamental power in fashion.
The tassel has almost always been a symbol of power and prestige. The word “tassel” originated from a Latin word “tassau”, which refers to a clasp at the neck of a garment. Tassels used to serve as a weaving knot in garments to prevent unraveling. Then they began to take more powerful significance. Ancient priests and military officers would wear them as talismans to ward off evil spirits.
Thanks to the French the tassel became a trend (those French!). Around 16th century, the Guild of the Passamentiers established “passaementerie”. It means that tassels would be woven into furnishings such as thrones (??). A single tassel would cost the equivalent of thousands of dollars to commission and would take weeks of labor and valuable materials.
Then, scholars from Oxford and Cambridge started decorating their graduation caps to mark their intellectual superiority. The church tied them to robes to denote rank among clergy members. Napoleon, King Louis XIV, and other royals all got them commissioned onto costumes and residences. Shortly after that, the rest of the Western followed suit by adding them to everything and anything.
Today, they made a comeback with the tassel earrings and now they are EVERYWHERE! From hem of shirts to the length of pants (oh dear!). I even spotted them on HSY’s bridal couture dupattas this morning. Wow!
From shredded hemlines to an array of accessories, this quite fashionable trend is now in the spotlight once again. Designers such as Givenchy, Rebecca Minkoff, Ralph Lauren, Marissa Webb, Hervé Leger, and Alexander Wang all featured a variation of tassels in their SS16 collections. It is not uncommon to see them at the hem of a kameez, dupattas, handbags and earrings.
Highly popular in the 60s, fringe began to take on a Native American influence. Twiggy, Jane Shrimpton, Sonny Bono, and Cher all frequently wore jackets and dresses made of suede with fringe with this Native American feel.
The trend of fringe comes and goes. In 2017, it has come back with a vengeance. After the popular tassel earrings trend, the fringe earring is the next thing to come out.
The word “pom-pom” is said to have originated from the French word “pompon” during the 18th century. During this time, the Hungarian cavalry (for all you history buffs) knows as the Hussars wore what was a tall structured cap as part of their uniforms. The impressive headgear caught the eye of regiments across Europe, including Napoleon’s army. Different regiments put their own twists on it- some used metal plating, while others topped them with feathered plumage or a pom-pom. The color and shape of the fluffy flourish signified rant and regiment.
Off the battlefield, the pom-pom held great significance as well. In South America, traditional garments of men and women were being decorated with differently colored pom-poms as a signal of their marital status. In Rome, clergymen wore “birettas” with different colored pom-poms that signified the wearer’s order.
Compared with tassels and other jeweled trinkets, the pom-pom was an economical embellishment (it could be scrapped together with a leftover yarn). Few centuries later, tissue pom-poms were popping up at high school dances as easy DIY decorations (Thanks Martha!). People everywhere fell in love with the playfulness and flare of pom-pom and they are enjoyed even today. You can spot them on Kate Spade’s shoes and accessories or look into Khaadi if you want to follow this trend. They can easily be spotted on scarves, handbags and sandals.