Rhodes has diversified her design business into household linens and textiles, glassware, linens, cushions, throws, rugs, and screens. In collaboration with the artist David Humphries, she fashioned a number of terrazzo designs, such as the Global Plaza at Harbourside in Sydney, Australia, and the Del Mar House Terrazzo project in California, for which she was given an honor award by the National Terrazzo and Mosaic Association in 1998.

In 2003 Zandra Rhodes realized a long-held ambition to open a museum. The strikingly colored frontage of her Fashion and Textile Museum has become one of London's landmarks. Sited in Bermondsey on the south bank of the river Thames, it was designed by the Mexican architect Ricardo Legoreta. As a select showcase for contemporary and vintage fashion and textile design, the museum is intended to provide an accessible archive and resource center. It also seeks to generate discourse on design by providing a forum for debate and student activity. The inaugural exhibition, My Favourite Dress, included the work of seventy of the most internationally renowned contemporary designers, including John Galliano, Yohji Yamamoto, Julien MacDonald, Antonio Berardi, Roland Mouret, and Sophia Kokosalaki.

See also Diana, Princess of Wales; Evening Dress; Fashion

Museums and Collections.


Rhodes, Zandra, and Anne Knight. The Art of Zandra Rhodes.

London: Cape, 1984. Steele, Valerie. Women of Fashion: Twentieth Century Designers.

New York: Rizzoli International, 1991.

Marnie Fogg

RIBBON The term "ribbon" refers to narrow loom-woven strips of cloth, often with a visible selvage on each side that helps them to maintain their form. Ribbons can be made of any fiber and are usually woven in satin, plain, gauze, twill, and velvet weaves. The origins of the term "ribbon" and its earlier forms, ruban or riband, are obscure, but they may be Teutonic and a compound of the word "band"—the ancestor of the modern day ribbon. As early as the Neolithic period, people wove very narrow, dense, often utilitarian strips of fabric on small portable looms. Impressions of warp-faced plain weave bands dating back to 6000 B.C.E. were excavated from the Turkish archaeological site of Catal Huyuk. While their purpose was primarily functional, some evidence suggests that bands also could be used for more flirtatious and decora-

Teutonic Archaeological Sites

Naval ribbons and medals. In military institutions ribbons covering metal pins serve as indicators of award and rank. Ribbons are also used to attach medals to the uniforms of soldiers.

© Yogi, Inc./Corbis. Reproduced by permission.

Naval ribbons and medals. In military institutions ribbons covering metal pins serve as indicators of award and rank. Ribbons are also used to attach medals to the uniforms of soldiers.

© Yogi, Inc./Corbis. Reproduced by permission.

tive purposes. Elizabeth Wayland Barber has suggested that dancers waved strips of fabric while performing beginning in the Middle Bronze Age. Evidence exists that in the Aegean cultures of 2000 thruogh 1200 B.C.E., specialized weavers used a warp-weighted vertical loom to weave decorative edgings and bands to ornament and trim garments.

In Europe, the weaving of lightweight ribbons as opposed to the sturdy, warp-faced bands of antiquity probably began as soon as the horizontal loom was introduced during the eleventh century. Lightweight ribbons were not unknown, however; archaeologists working in London uncovered several plain weave ribbons of unspun, undegummed silk, which were probably imported from the East.

References to ribbons occur with increasing frequency during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries as more tailored clothing developed and ribbons with aiglets (metal points) at each end were used to lace garments together. Ribbons also trimmed garments as they had in the past, encircled waists as girdles, and were worn in the hair. London archaeologists excavated ribbons of spun silk (probably woven locally) found in digs dating to the fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries. While ribbons continued to be an aspect of fashionable dress throughout the Middle Ages and Renaissance, they did not become a focus of fashion until the seventeenth century after a loom was invented that could weave more than one ribbon at a time. This new loom allowed multiple ribbons to be woven at once by providing a separate warp beam and shuttle for each ribbon. An Italian abbé, Lan-cellotti, was the first to write about such a loom, which he said was invented in Danzig around 1530. He also wrote that the loom so threatened traditional ribbon weavers that it was destroyed and the inventor secretly strangled or drowned. The new loom was not totally lost, for it appears again in Leiden by 1604 and in London by 1610. However, it was in France that the use of ribbons took hold when Louis XIV turned them into a fashion obsession.

The city of Paris was well known for its ribbons, as were the cities of Saint-Étienne and Saint-Chamond, where ribbons were woven as early as the beginning of the fourteenth century. Charles VII published the first statutes of the master tissutiers and Rubanniers of Paris in 1403. Statutes were again published in 1524 and in 1585, when the rubanniers were assigned their own guild. Ribbon weavers during this period worked on small looms that were light, compact, and sat on tabletops. Men, women, and even children easily wove on these looms, producing one ribbon at a time, and small workshops predominated. When the new ribbon loom was introduced during the seventeenth century, it revolutionized the trades and, as in Danzig, at first encountered resistance among the ribbon weavers of France.

Despite the reluctance of the French ribbon weavers to use the new loom, Louis XIV's finance minister Jean-Baptiste Colbert strongly encouraged its acceptance and, because the king adopted ribbons as an important element of fashionable dress, the trade flourished. Ribbons of silk and gold and silver thread were woven in many different structures, including plain weave taffetas, satin, and velvets. A wide range of brilliant dyes was employed to color the ribbons, including cerulean blue, yellow, and a variety of reds such as crimson, scarlet, cherry, and Louis XIV's favorite couleur de feu, or flame. Courtiers attached ribbons to hats, sword handles, shoes, sleeves, around the knees, and even to the lower bodice front, where yards of ribbon loops emphasized the wearer's masculinity. Diana de Marly writes in her book on fashion during the reign of Louis XIV that the Marquis de Louvois and the Marquis de Villeroi would shut themselves up in a chamber for days discussing the best placement for a ribbon on a suit.

By the end of the seventeenth century, ribbons began to lose their popularity with men as the more somber three-piece suit came into favor. Women continued to wear ribbons, but not to the extent that they were worn during the previous decade. By the middle of the eighteenth century, ribbons again came to the forefront of women's fashion when dresses were trimmed with silk-

ribbon bows. Stomacher trims, known in French as the echelle and used to close the front of the dress, had horizontal rows of large bows down the front. Bows further decorated the elbows and were often worn around the neck. By the end of the eighteenth century, dressmakers and milliners began to use ribbons in increasing quantities as fashion's focus turned to the trimmings of dresses and hats.

Fashion's growing interest in ribbons increased during the early nineteenth century as the jacquard mechanism was adapted for use with ribbons looms. Weavers wove intricately patterned silk ribbons that became extremely fashionable during the nineteenth century. These ribbons trimmed the lavish and large bonnets of the 1820s and 1830s. The town of Saint-Ftienne adapted itself to these new developments and became a leading center in the ribbon trade, specializing in weaving floral patterned ribbons. Saint-Ftienne also specialized in weaving the ribbons that played an increasingly important role in national dress, especially the dress of French women from Brittany, Savoy, Alsace, and Provence. Ribbons ornamented bonnets, caps, aprons, blouses, and skirts, and their color could be used to indicate the religious beliefs of the wearer, as in Alsace, where a red ribbon indicated a Protestant background and black, a Catholic one.

Fashionable dressmakers and milliners continued to use ribbons in their work throughout the nineteenth and even twentieth centuries, although not as frequently as in the past. During some periods ribbons enjoyed more popularity than others, such as the mid-nineteenth century, when trimmings on dresses became increasingly fashionable and ribbons edged flounces and were folded and braided to create complex trims. Ribbons again took on importance during the years between 1910 and 1920, when they were formed into flowers and trimmed elaborate evening dresses, known as robes de styles. Couturiers such as Lucile and the Callot sisters were well known for these gowns. Ribbons played less of a role in fashionable dress during the rest of the twentieth century, but they did not escape the notice of several designers. Charles James, Karl Lagerfeld, and James Galanos all designed dresses composed entirely of ribbons stitched together to form a cloth.

While the jacquard was adapted to create ribbons patterned with complex floral designs for fashionable and national dress, novelty ribbons and pictures also were woven with extremely detailed imagery that resembled the work of etchers and engravers. The weavers showed many of these pictures and ribbons at international expositions, trumpeting the jacquard's technical achievements. The ribbons often were woven to commemorate special occasions or events, such as elections and political or historic anniversaries, and they point to another aspect of the use of ribbons, to honor and remember.

It is impossible to say when ribbons took on significance outside of their role in dress, but the Oxford English Dictionary indicates that as early as the sixteenth

Seventeeth Century Dress
Dress with a ribbon bodice. This 2002 Benjamin Cho dress features a bodice made entirely of ribbons. AP/Wide World Photos. Reproduced with permission.

century they were given between men and women as favors and that by the seventeenth century wide blue ribbons were worn across the chest by members of the Order of the Garter, the highest honor bestowed by the British ruler. Ribbons were also used to attached medals to the chests of honored military men, and today small pins covered with ribbons patterned in a variety of stripes are worn on American military uniforms in place of the medals. The use of blue ribbons and red ribbons as first and second prizes in competition appears to have begun in the late nineteenth century.

Ribbons also served to commemorate the dead. Mourners wore black armbands and hatbands, while narrow black "ribbons of love" decorated the caps and blankets of babies. The use of ribbons as a token of remembrance took on particular significance in the later part of the twentieth century. In 1981, Americans bedecked their trees with yards of yellow ribbons as a sign of remembrance and to welcome home American hostages taken in Iran. While many believed the custom started during the Civil War as a way to welcome home returning soldiers, in reality, Penne Laingen, the wife of one of the Iran hostages who began the tradition in 1979, was inspired by the act of another woman. In 1975, Gail Magruder festooned her front porch with yellow ribbons to welcome home her husband, Jeb Stuart Magruder, who had recently been released from prison after his conviction during the Watergate investigations. The number one single of 1973, "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree," sung by Tony Orlando and Dawn, inspired Gail Magruder's act. The song was in turn inspired by the legend of a man released from prison who told his wife to tie a yellow ribbon on an old oak tree if she welcomed him back. Yellow ribbons again appeared in Americans' front yards after the first Persian Gulf War of 1991 to greet returning soldiers.

The symbolic use of ribbons increased toward the end of the twentieth century, and the wearing of a small colored ribbon pinned to one's clothing came to indicate a sympathy toward one cause or another. In 1990, the art activism group Visual AIDS introduced the custom of wearing a small loop of red ribbon as an international symbol of AIDS awareness. A small pink bow is indicative of an awareness and support of breast cancer research.

While ribbons are still manufactured and can be found trimming hats and lingerie, they are no longer an important element of fashion. Their place as commemorative tokens and in the work of crafters has ensured the continued production of ribbons; however, manufacturing methods have evolved to make them cheaper to produce. Ribbons woven on a loom are more rarely produced today, and cut-edge or fused ribbons are more common. Thermoplastic fibers woven in satin or plain weave taffeta are slit in the desired width with a heated cutting tool that fuses and seals the edges of the ribbon—a far distant cousin to the luxurious silk, silver, and gold ribbons of the seventeenth century.

See also Callot Sisters; Loom; Lucile; Politics and Fashion; Silk; Trimmings.


Barber, Elizabeth Wayland. Prehistoric Textiles. Princeton, N.J.:

Princeton University Press, 1991. de Marly, Diana. Louis XIV & Versailles. New York: Holmes and Meier, 1987.

Kerridge, Eric. Textile Manufactures in Early Modern England. Manchester, U.K., and Dover, N.H.: Manchester University Press, 1985. Musée National des Arts et Traditions Populaires. Rubans et Galons. Paris: Musée National des Arts et Traditions Populaires, 1992.

Pamela A. Parmal

RINGS The circular form surrounding the finger without beginning or end was subject to numerous beliefs and superstitions. Even if the finger ring initially served a dec orative purpose, of all types of jewelry, it has possibly the most personal of meanings for the wearer. Finger rings were worn as a sign of wealth, power, and love and given for special occasions marking various stages of the wearer's life. Rarely can the wearer be identified, yet the choice of symbols, materials, or stones of a ring often identify the function or occasion to which a finger ring adorned the wearer's hand, and tells a personal story.

The ring is a very compact form of jewel, with its dimensions determined by the size of the finger and thus confining the maker to work in a miniature scale. Despite the rigidly restricted form based on the finger, the diversity of the designs throughout the millennia is proof of the wealth of artistic imagination. The small dimensions are also challenging for the jewelry historian, who is often confronted with only minute details to give a precise date to a piece. Unlike any other type of jewelry, the shape of the finger ring has never been dependent on any dress fashions, yet in every civilization their designs mirror the heritage and contemporary art styles of the period or region.

Pictorial images illustrating how rings were worn on the hand are rare in antiquity, either on mummies of Ancient Egypt or tomb sculptures of the Etruscan and Roman periods, more revealing though are portraits of men, women, and children in Western Art from the fifteenth century onward.

Finger rings may have existed since early humankind, yet many of the organic materials used in the prehistoric era, such as bones, shells and plants, would not have survived. Earliest known examples go back to the Sumerian civilization in Mesopotamia of the third millennium B.C.E. Decorative examples of gold with inlaid lapis-lazuli or carnelian are very rare; more common are the stamp and cylinder seals of the Ancient Near East, generally made of stone with gold caps and swivel hoops, from which the signet ring, the oldest form of finger ring originated. The early signets had a distinctive function, at a time when the art of writing was known to few; they served as a guarantee of authenticity or ownership, and were used for trade as well as for legal transactions. While wax seals are generally a thing of the past, as late as the 2000s the signet ring remains unchanged.

In the Middle Kingdom of Ancient Egypt in the second millennium B.C.E., the cylinder seal ring developed into a form that was to dominate Egyptian finger rings for many centuries, that of the scarab, the dung beetle carved in gemstones, such as lapis-lazuli, obsidian, jasper, faience or glass imitations, with a drill hole and either a cord or gold wire running through the beetle and encircling the finger. The hoops and settings became more elaborate in their design, yet the basic shape remained the same: the scarab could be swiveled on its mount to use the engraved underside for sealing, and the beetle was worn as a decorative ornament on the finger. A scarab with the engraved name of its owner, such as that of the pharaoh or priest, was worn for its magical qualities as a good-luck charm.

The scarab on the revolving bezel was a ring type copied by the Phoenicians, Etruscans, and Greeks, as well as the heavy gold stirrup rings of Ancient Egypt with cartouche-shaped bezels. These were refined in Ancient Greece, and the shapes became more varied and the decorations intricate. The bezel in either gold, silver, bronze, or set with a gemstone, illustrated mythological scenes or beasts transmitting the attributes of deities or the diligence and strength of the animals to the wearer. During the Hellenistic period, rings became fancy, the gold intricate, and settings for stones more elaborate, and the function tended to be decorative.

With the love for gemstones and their availability through newly opened trade routes, the art of cutting gems evolved in ancient Greece and later in ancient Rome, where a stone became an essential element of the ring. The motifs incised as intaglios or carved in relief showed apart from mythological figures, subjects from literature, theater, and everyday life to assist or mark momentous occasions or provide good luck. During the early Roman period, iron rings were common among all classes, and later were only worn by slaves and soldiers, and as betrothal rings. Even though the Greeks had love rings, the Romans appear to be the first to have introduced the betrothal ring given by the prospective husband as a warranty or pledge of marriage. The early examples were circles made of iron. In the second and third centuries C.E. with the ever-expanding Roman Empire and newly acquired wealth, social structures had changed, and this was very much reflected in the bold proportions and designs of heavy gold betrothal rings with devices such as Hercules knots (love knots), the dex-trarum iunctio showing two right hands clasped together (both motifs continued into the nineteenth century), and other erotic symbols. The ring became a display of luxury and status, even remarked on in contemporary accounts. By the Roman period, jewelry was accessible to a wider range of social classes, but with the new wealth, restrictions were imposed as to who was allowed to wear gold or silver.

The early Christians used late Roman ring shapes, mainly in gilt bronze or silver, and replaced the pagan divinities and other heathen symbols with Christian motifs as a sign of their allegiance to the new faith; these included the Chi-Rho monogram of Christ, a fish, a dolphin and Agnus Dei. The Byzantines, in turn, adopted in silver and gold with niello, the Christian ring forms and symbols. The iconography, however, was expanded to include images of the Virgin and Child, numerous saints, crosses with coded personal monograms of the owners and scenes—such as the marriage ritual with the couple being blessed by Christ—and also sacred Greek inscriptions. Splendid gold rings from the Byzantine period, with high bezels in ornately pierced gold set with sapphires, garnets, and pearls, also exist. These decora tive specimens, which exemplify the goldsmithing art and the technique of inlaying stones of the Byzantines, influenced the numerous tribes crossing Europe during the early Middle Ages.

From the twelfth century onward, while the wearing of finger rings was not restricted to any social classes, the use of gold or certain gemstones was limited by each country according to its sumptuary laws. Many pieces have survived through hoards all over Europe. While it is fascinating to observe the international style of many medieval ring types, it is almost impossible to determine the place of manufacture without knowledge of the provenance. Design ideas often with high constructed bezels appear to have traveled with the trade of gemstones from the Orient. Diamonds, sapphires, rubies, spinels, and amethysts in cabochon cut were favored by the church clerics as a sign of rank. Devotional images, such as various cross forms, the Virgin Mary, and symbolic beasts such as the Pelican and her Piety, often complemented Greek and Latin inscriptions to be worn by the devout. Figures of saints or relics in rings were thought to have protective or curative powers against cramps, fevers, epilepsy, or illnesses of the eyes, kidneys, or whatever ailment the wearer had.

Rings with amorous symbols and messages of love, often in French as the international language of the courts, were popular during the medieval and Renaissance periods. They were worn as signs of affection in courtship and later in marriage. One of the most widespread is the fede ring (Italian for "trust") with two right hands in gold clasped to indicate the pledge of troth, known in Roman times and continued well into the nineteenth century. Rubies and diamonds in table-cut were traditionally symbolic of love and constancy and only affordable by the wealthy. Gimmel rings (gemellus is Latin for "twin") with twin bezels served as settings for this traditional combination, and to underline the significance, figures of lovers or hearts united were combined with inscriptions, such as "What God hath joined together, let man not put asunder" (Matthew 19:6) in Latin or the language of the country of origin. The exchange of marriage rings during the ceremony instead of giving a ring as a pledge of betrothal varied from country to country. The engagement ring, as is known today, was more of an invention of the nineteenth century with the diamond cluster rings.

Whether in gilt bronze, silver, or heavy gold, or even in the splendor of engraved rock crystal with colored foils beneath the heraldry, the signet became a status symbol for all. Even the merchant, gaining ever more influence from the fifteenth century onward, copied the aristocratic codes and practice, and wore a family coat of arms, merchant's mark, or guild rings, taking pride in his profession and position in society.

In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, signet rings occasionally had a double-sided bezel, which could be swiveled to include a memento mori motif—a death's head, miniature skeleton, or hourglass—and symbols of decay with creeping things, such as worms, reminding people of their transience and preparing them for death.

Mourning rings were popular from about the fifteenth to nineteenth centuries, in particular during the baroque period and eighteenth century. Memorial rings with commemorative inscriptions and portraits of the deceased became fashionable, and mourning rings were given at funerals as a token of remembrance; these were black or dark blue in combination with white enamel surrounding the name of the deceased person and their birth and death dates. In the late eighteenth century, memorial rings reached a peak together with the ritual of mourning. Large elaborate bezels illustrated death through symbols such as the broken column, the obelisk, with the most popular being the funerary urn derived from antiquity. These were often accompanied by weeping willows, cypresses, faithful dogs, and lamenting women in classical drapery, either diamond-studded or made of the hair of the deceased, against a dark blue enamel or glass over an engine-turned background.

In contrast to this, the eighteenth century showed an abundance of fancy rings, with hearts entwined in rubies and diamonds, billing doves, love knots, flowers tied with ribbons or filling a basket, and other themes of nature, masquerade or games in polychrome choice of stones. The decorative feature of the ring culminated in the multilayered bezels and clusters of stones in rose-cut and other fancy cuts that became stylish in the eighteenth century, which continues to be popular in the early twenty-first century.

In the nineteenth century, the ring was characterized by romantic iconography with symbols of sentiment and inscriptions: the language of flowers, such as forget-me-nots for memory; from the animal world, snakes as a sign of eternity, butterflies for vanity, or miniature envelopes and purses enclosing love declarations; and the language of stones, such as the turquoise serving as a token of friendship and affection.

As historical portraits of rulers or heroes show, rings were worn as a sign of political allegiance, but they also depicted scenes of historic political events such as the French Revolution or the Napoleonic Wars. Rings also signify allegiance to social groups and institutions.

A small, yet fascinating group of rings exist that are used for specific functions such as the archer's ring in antiquity, the rosary ring for saying prayers, the pipe-stopper ring, sundial or watch rings, squirt rings, vinaigrettes, or those with some scientific novelty such as a spy glass or miniature photograph.

Throughout the millennia of its history, the ring with bezel, shank, and hoop encircled the finger with a round, oval, or derivative shape. In the early twentieth century, the ring had undergone a radical change when, in the art nouveau period, the bezel together with the hoop became a freestanding piece of sculpture that challenged all traditional forms. The foundations were laid for the artist jeweler of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries who creates rings as free art forms. The materials and designs used for rings in the second half of the twentieth century broke all boundaries, and precious metals were combined with nonprecious materials of the period, such as plastics, paper, and everything hitherto unconventional.

See also Bracelets; Brooches and Pins; Jewelry; Necklaces and Pendants.


Chadour, Anna Beatriz. Rings: The Alice and Louis Koch Collection. Leeds, England: Maney Publishing, 1994. Cutsem, Anne van. A World of Rings: Africa, Asia, America. Milan: Skira Editore, 2000. Dalton, O. M. Catalogue of Finger Rings, Early Christian, Byzantine, Teutonic, Medieval and Later. London: British Museum, 1912.

Kunz, George Frederick. Rings for the Finger. New York: Dover Publications, 1973. Reprint of original edition published in 1917.

Marshall, Frederick Henry. Catalogue of Finger Rings: Greek, Etruscan and Roman in the Department of Antiquities, British Museum. London: British Museum, 1968. Reprint of original edition published in 1907.

Oman, Charles C. Victoria and Albert Museum, Catalogue of Rings. Ipswich, U.K.: Anglia Publishing, 1993. Reprint of original edition published in 1930. Scarisbrick, Diana. Rings: Symbols of Wealth, Power, and Affection. London and New York: Abrams, 1993.

Anna Beatriz Chadour-Sampson

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