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Maine Historical Society

MAINE HISTORICAL SOCIETY

PRESERVING HISTORY
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On-Demand Programs

Looming Trends: 18th-Century Patterned Silks in New England
*NORTHERN THREADS SERIES* A Talk with Ned Lazaro

Recorded on June 1, 2022

During the 18th century, patterned silks were some of the costliest fabrics available. Hand-woven on complex drawlooms, patterned silks worn for dress could be highly decorative, featuring designs that changed not just yearly, but seasonally. With no large-scale weaving in the colonies, a select group of New Englanders imitating the sartorial tastes of England and Europe’s elite adopted imported examples. Not surprisingly, however, the absence here of an aristocracy and its attendant, complex wardrobe requirements created an entirely different context for ownership. In this talk, Ned Lazaro from Historic Deerfield looks at New Englanders who chose to wear this luxurious dress fabric during the early and middle years of the 18th century and explores issues of consumption, availability, preferences, and symbolic legacy.