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Parfilage was a fashionable pastime among women at the Versailles in the 1760s and 1770s. While most forms of ladies' handwork involved making something, parfilage was the opposite: women spent their time unraveling gold and silver braid, lace, or epaulets. As the fad grew--Grimm's Correspondence littéraire referred to a "furor" for it in winter 1773[1]--ornaments were made and sold solely for the purpose of being unmade. Ladies carried small sacks with them for the gold and silver threads they had salvaged. Taken to a goldsmith, the thread could be melted down and made into coins. In Britain, parfilage was sometimes known as "drizzling."[2]


  1. ^ Grimm, Melchior (1829–1831). Correspondance littéraire. Furne.
  2. ^ Helen Clifford, "A Commerce with Things: The Value of Precious Metalwork in early modern England," in Maxine Berg and Helen Clifford, eds., Consumers and Luxury: Consumer Culture in Europe, 1650-1850 (Manchester University Press, 1999).

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