Collection Online
silk satin, cotton, metal (hook and eye), silk (thread, cord, tassel)
112.5 cm (centre back) 467.0 cm (hem circumference)
Place/s of Execution
London, England
Accession Number
International Fashion and Textiles
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased through The Art Foundation of Victoria with the assistance of David Syme & Co. Limited, Fellow, 1977
Gallery location
Not on display
Burnous of fawn silk satin. One length of fabric has been folded so that the selvedge edge becomes the centre front. The hem is machine stitched. The neck hole is located between the stitched join of the hood and two large silk satin buttons that fasten with a cord. When worn the hood and tassle drape down the wearer’s back. An eight-centimetre band of eastern-inspired embroidery – featuring stem stitch, chain stitch and satin stitch – in silk floss on cotton muslin ground runs along this entire length.

The burnous – a long, flowing cloak of Arab and Moorish descent – quickly became a popular staple of the London department store Liberty & Co. in the early 1900s. The boldly delineated pattern of flora in warm and subtle tones, coupled with the exotic cut of the garment itself, harks back to the artful simplicities of pre-industrial times. In its allegiance to the handmade, the Burnous belies nostalgia for the artisanal legacy of medieval Europe, as well as enchantment with the splendour of the Far East.

—text from Exquisite Threads (Apr 2015)