Example of Hungarian passementerie from the back of a woman's long waistcoat, c. 1930's. Example of Hungarian passementerie from the back of a woman's long waistcoat, c. 1930's. TRC collection.

Passementerie is a general term used for fringes, gimps, ornamental cords, tassels, trimmings and so forth that are sewn down onto a garment or textile of some form. The term can also be used to describe a form of applied embroidery, whereby a flexible cord or braid is couched down in a decorative pattern onto a ground material.

In the sixteenth century, the word passementerie had the more specific meaning of a trimming of gold or silver lace, and then slightly later it was also associated with a gimp braid or something similar. It then went out of use. The term was revived in the nineteenth century and referred to a wide range of fringes, gimps (braids) and ribbons. The items were often used on diplomatic and military uniforms. These meanings and uses continued into the twenty-first century.

During the twentieth and twenty-first centuries the term could also be used more specifically to describe any narrow braid or cord that was sewn down in a decorative manner onto a piece of cloth or garment.

Passementerie designs are popular in many countries, notably in North Africa and the Middle East (especially in the form of a narrow braid or cord couched down onto a garment of some kind).

See also: cord couching and passement


  • BARRET, Gina (2012). 'Passementerie', in: Gale Owen-Crocker, Elizabeth Coatsworth and Maria Hayward (eds.), Encyclopedia of Medieval Dress and Textiles of the British Isles, 450-1450, Leiden: Brill, pp. 403-406.
  • EARNSHAW, Pat (1984). A Dictionary of Lace, Aylesbury: Shire Publications.
  • SHAEFFER, Claire B. (1993). Couture Sewing Techniques, Newtown CT: Taunton, p. 204.
  • Shorter Oxford English Dictionary: 'Passementerie'.


Last modified on Wednesday, 05 October 2016 10:34
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