Today, our caskets are hammered with rings and bracelets under the outset, and there is a waterfall of our handbags falling out of the closet. Does it seem that we have everything? No! In the wardrobe of the 18th century ladies was an accessory, which now fashionable women never dreamed of – it’s decorative belt hook, which was called Chatelaine.
Chatelaine – is a belt hook from the wardrobe of Victorian era ladies, on which they wore a wide variety of items: notebooks, knives, thimbles, measuring tapes, thermometers. Chatelaine was much more convenient than modern handbags in which their owners have to dig frantically to find something.
Everything had begun in the medieval France. At that time the mistress of the house or castle had a set of keys from all rooms, pantry, wine cellar and chests. The most reliable place to store such keys was her waist. Each individual key was hung to the clamp, which was in turn attached to the mistresses belt. First Chatelaine was made from simple alloys and metals.
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In the late 17th century this device was named “Chatelaine” and then it has been worn not only by women, but also by gentlemen; and its attachments haven’t been only keys, but also the various stationery.
This jewelry has become an integral part of the medieval lady costume and remained until the end of the 19th century. Ladies used this belt brooch with pendants not only for the tools of embroidery, but also for storing jewelry, poison and perfume. It was made by jewelers from silver, bronze, brass and was decorated with stones.
For the first time in press term “Chatelaine” appeared in April 1828, in «The World of Fashion» magazine, published in London. Cummins and Taunton gave a definition Chatelaine – «lovely accessory» and very poetically, but in details, described all the components of this ladies’ jewelry. The most famous ladies began to make orders for famous jewelers, everyone wanted to have own Chatelaine.
The practice of wearing necessary items at the waist existed in different cultures. For example, Japanese wore netsuke and into on the belt (boxes for storing small items), and the Chinese wore embroidered wallets. Sometimes valuable items and toiletries were placed in special cases or containers made of leather or precious metals, called étuis. They were worn on a string, not on a chain, called the equipages. In 1510, when watches became fashionable, people wore them just in the equipage, putting a chain to the belt.
In the early 18th century Chatelaine has gained more and more popularity among the aristocratic society. The rapid growth was assisted by the popularity of wearing mechanical watches. Mechanical pocket watch attached to a chain – the type of Chatelaine.
There were two kinds of Chatelaine. Most of them looked like a medallion at the bottom on which was a metal tongue clip up to the belt. Also there was a Chatelaine in American style – an elongated brooch with a pin on a back side. In the Victorian era dresses had no useful pockets, and large bags weren’t common in that times, women wore only small handbags. Thus Chatelaine became an indispensable assessory for any lady.
Later Chatelaine began to spread everywhere. Among them was attached not only stationery, but also small mirrors, numerous manicure equipment, as well as complete wardrobe items. One of the such common items became leather gloves. In general, this is the first variant of cosmetic bags or a clutch.
The most common item after chain for watches became pendant Chatelaine. Typically, these pendants were small and had a form of a drop medallions, where on both sides in the frameworks were located some family photos.
Chatelaine popularity hasn’t passed by people purely from working trades. For example, nurses wore these accessories almost without exception, as it has been very convenient to hang all the necessary instruments in such belt hook – thermometers, scissors, safety pins, bandages and others.
Today, the most amazing versions of Chatelaine are preserved at exhibitions in various museums around the world. Antiques in the form of that accessory adequately demonstrate the jewelry mastery. Some Chatelaines are real works of art, and have historical, collector and museum value.
Have you ever thought about the revival of the Chatelaine? Click To Tweet
It is unlikely, but it would be very curious to see this fashion present in the latest trends. If you have any question or suggestion, you can leave it in the comment box. See you soon!