A French Passion - 1800-1880

  1. Monique Lévi-Strauss
  • ISBN 9780500517123
  • 30.00 x 24.00 cm
  • Hardback without Jacket
  • 320pp
  • 298 Illustrations, 285 in colour
  • First published 2013

The story of the French cashmere shawls of the 19th century and their rise to the heights of fashion. This treasure trove will delight textile scholars and costume historians and anyone who loves gorgeous accessories

‘A sumptuous book on a luxurious subject … a feast of illustrations’ – The Lady
‘Sumptuous … scholarly and readable … this book is the next best thing to owning a historic shawl oneself’ – Selvedge
‘Exquisite … In addition to close examinations of individual shawls, Lévi-Strauss’s book explores the role of the shawl in social matters grave and frivolous’– Spin-Off


The delicate beauty of the cashmere shawl was first brought to Europe by the East India Companies and Napoleon’s campaigns. Woven in Kashmir, its fabric was so light that, according to legend, a whole shawl could be passed through a finger ring. By the 19th century these shawls were highly sought-after in France; French manufacturers soon saw that there was a market for more accessibly priced versions and started to create their own.

Monique Lévi-Strauss has spent more than thirty years collecting and studying these shawls and gathering rare documents to preserve their history. This completely revised, expanded and redesigned edition of her classic book on the subject illustrates nearly 300 of these beautiful items, superbly photographed to showcase their splendid original designs, alongside a wealth of archive material and contemporary paintings that show them being worn by their elegant owners.

Monique Lévi-Strauss’s passion for cashmere was first sparked by the chance discovery of a 19th-century shawl at a flea market in the 1950s. Since then, she has devoted her life to researching the textile and all things associated with it.