Kashmir shawls proved phenomenally popular - despite the fact that, with weeks of painstaking hand work in each cashmere masterpiece, they were also very expensive. So inevitably the home-grown textile industry all over Europe, knowing a good thing when they saw one, started to copy.
It is not entirely clear as to why and exactly when they became known as Paisley shawls, or when the p-word came to mean simply the stand alone tear-drop design. But one theory is that during an economic recession in 1842, in an effort to bolster employment and avert working class revolt, the Prime Minister of the day, Robert Peel urged Queen Victoria to demonstrate her support for her textile workers by wearing 'the Paisley shawl'. At the christening of the Prince of Wales later that year, amid some press grumblings about royal excess, the women of the royal household were asked to wear 'Paisley shawls and English lace'. Queen Victoria was reputed to have many 'paisley shawls' - some silk, some wool, some velvet and some with the paisley woven into a tartan background (how lush would that be?)!
Detail of A Victorian Family at the Seaside by Charles Wynne Nicols
And so, o dearly beloved, from that day on and with a royal seal of approval, PAISLEY became the name not just for a small Scottish town but for an exquisite and timeless design that extends from the grand Mughals of Central Asia to Victorian Britain and from the flower power 60's all the way to todays interiors. And therein lies a circular story, so typical of the history of textiles, of empires won and lost and not-so-common wealth.
May the best team in Glasgow take home the gold, and by way of salute to them all, this is my paisley edit:
Abraham Moon's 100% wool Heritage Mac in Claret
Titley & Marr's ikat woven Turkistan Boteh in chartreuse and rose
Another large scale print: Titley and Marr's Paisley Denim
Vanessa Arbuthnott's hand-blocked Life and Eternity in teal (Ah ha! the name references the ancient Zoroastrian symbol)
A woven damask: Volga Linen's large Paisley Rose-taupe.
And today's personal favourite: Arctic's Salca Pearl