Wednesday, November 16, 2011


A lozenge is not a paisley.  The background resembles
the design of golden Buccellati jewelry.

If readers would return to the initial entry in the Paisley Diaries blog, they would find me, a Detroit child, disappointed at not receiving an answer from grown-ups as to the meaning of paisley.

Now I am a teenager, who like many budding fashionistas, spends free time roaming though stores. My store of choice is what Life magazine once called one of the largest stores in the United States and if measuring sales volume, the downtown store was a  larger producer than Macy's 34th Street if one didn't count the sales of liquor that Macy's offered.

J. L. Hudson existed in two separate side-by-side buildings that extended from 1206 Woodward Avenue to Farmer Street, buildings with 12 huge upstairs selling floors plus a mezzanine and two basement floors and was so beautifully built, they had trouble demolishing it when downtown Detroit almost closed down. (Detroit is on the move right now to reverse that trend). The store was my museum, my school, my refuge. And after visiting the basement and fashion floors, I always ended up in the fabric department, spending hours walking among the rows and rows of fascinating bolts. I knew I would never be handy enough to sew but if the price were right, I could bring fabric and ideas home to my mother.

It is the late 50s and paisley is fashion, so are scarves called "smoke rings". I bought a small piece of a beautiful print that I thought might be a paisley, an ornamental motif against a background of overlapping gold circles against green. Yes, my mother turned it into a smoke ring in about five minutes.

It was folded away for so long and seemed to allude finding but as I began working on this blog, it presented itself. I was shocked to find that it was not a paisley at all! Where was the teardrop shape? the little tip at the top? Where was the point? It has been suggested that it might be called a lozenge with multifoil background decoration and that the design tend to resemble Buccellati jewelry.

If there were pieces of Buccellati jewelry in Hudson's Fine Jewelry department, I never found them but the concept is correct. There is an over-the-top richness of mid-eastern design to my smoke ring. Buccellati, the Milanese family company grew up from its silversmith days of 1750 to the rich-lady sophistication of 1919 when Mario Buccellati opened his first jewelry stores. The characteristic look was intricate, over-the-top gold workings, the king's ransom kind. And so like the Italian eye to love that richness.

So, although I may never own a Buccellati bracelet, I do have yet another treasure from Hudson's and my mother. No quite a paisley, but this is not the end of the story. JP