|Above: Corner of Ralph Lauren shawl. Below: Heraldic-like paisley at the center.|
This Ralph Lauren shawl from c. 1986 is an excellent example of Paisley as a Royal Symbol. The large center motif is shown as almost a heraldic coat of arms with the paisley forming several outer frames.
Of course, when the Mughal King Akbar set out to establish shawl production in mid 16th century Kashmir, the intended target customer was the royal male. The shawl was worn in a variety of ways, diagonally across shoulder and chest, around the waist, as a turban.
Part of the Lauren design dynamic has always been paisley and after Bill Atkinson Ltd. had closed its doors in 1982, Jeanne Atkinson was recruited as Director of Ralph Lauren's Designer Division. It was an excellent match from both design and financial perspectives. Unpublished figures show a sizable turn-around profit for the division in 1986. The shawl is from Atkinson's personal collection. JP