Assiut/Assuit Design

Assiut at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Assiut Textiles in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of ArtThe venerable New York institution The Metropolitan Museum of Art, has a vast collection of textiles, clothing and accessory pieces in their collection.  In 1946, The Metropolitan incorporated the old Museum of Costume Art as a curatorial department, renaming it the Costume Institute. In January 2009, The Brooklyn Museum transferred its costume collection to the Met. Shortly thereafter, the museum remodeled its costume storage, research and display facilities. Today, The Anna Winter Costume Center is home to 4,200 square foot state of the art exhibition space for their collection.

Although this is a large space, only a fraction of the costume holdings can be displayed at one time. So as a boon to costume historians, scholars and researchers, much of the 35,000+ pieces of the Costume Instute are available for view online.

Info About the Met’s Costume Institute
Portal for The Collection Online

Assiut Highlights
However, you won’t find “assiut” in a simple search. The museum identifies artworks using standard art curatorial methods. Simple details such as title, artist, date, medium are all included in the basic descriptions of objects in the museum. Unfortunately, textiles are also described using this system, so many textiles become difficult to search for.  So instead of trying to find assiut fabric, researchers should search for the keywords, such as location ie, Egyptian or Egypt, and medium, cotton and metal.  The Metropolitan has made it easy to save your searches.  When you find objects that fit your search parameters, you can set up a free MyMet account, which will allow you to save your research items for easy future viewing.

Fashion Garments

Evening Coat: French, 1926 
Source: Metropolitan Museum
This gorgeous 1926 cocoon coat appears to have been made from one single densely stitched assiut piano shawl.  This absolutely gorgeous coat is a virtual mystery.  It is unknown who designed it, or who it was made for. Did the original owner purchase the assiut shawl on holiday in Egypt?  Did the seamstress or designer purchase it in bulk?  Was the assiut made in the 1920’s?  Or was it a family heirloom picked up during the Belle Epoque?  Even though we don’t know the specifics, we can certainly admire the design of the coat, with the complicated border pattern strategically used to emphasize the collar, hips, and back.

CI56.6.11_FEthnographic Garments

Source: Metropolitan Museum
There are also a few ethnographic garments held within the Met’s collection.  One in that I particularly like is the lovely assiut robe below.  Although not displayed so you can see it effectively, this garment is made in the traditional manner with straight sleeves and gussets, rather than a curved, set-in sleeve used today.  This style was once popularly worn as the top layer of a wedding dresses in Upper Egypt, but is now worn almost exclusively by dancers, especially those leading the wedding procession know as the zeffa, or who are performing cultural dances regionally specific to Upper Egypt.

Scarves, Stoles and Wraps
Assiut scarves and shawls entered the museum collection over the course of the last century as both donations and purchases.  Often the descriptions of a textile piece will reflect the taste of the day.  So what I might call a shawl, might be listed as a stole, or wrap.  A small scarf might be listed as a head scarf or even kerchief.  The beautiful assiut shawl below is a great example of how names can vary.  I might not be obvious from just the description “Middle Eastern Stole” that this is, in fact Egyptian Assiut.

Middle Eastern Stole
Source: Metropolitan Museum Egyptian Stole

There are several more garments, and many more shawls, stoles, and scarves to peek at in the Met’s collection.  If you’re interested in seeing more, you might want to try clicking through one of these links, and then check out the “related items” or simply type in a search for Egyptian, cotton and metal.  I hope you enjoy your visit to the virtual Met!

Dawn Devine ~ Davina
July 27, 2015



Assiut/Assuit Belly Dance Costuming DIY Design General Publications

“The Cloth of Egypt: All About Assiut” is Done!

I’m so pleased to announce that my book, The Cloth of Egypt: All About Assiut is now available for sale for the introductory price of $29.95.   When the book is available on in late November, it will retail for $34.99.

Thank you all for sharing this amazing journey from concept to finished product!  I hope enjoy my book, I’m so very proud of it!

Dawn Devine ~ Davina


Assiut/Assuit Belly Dance Design General

Pinterest and Assiut – A Love Affair

Hello Gang!

I love Pinterest! I find it to be an exceptional tool for both research and design. It gives the user the ability to save not only a link, but the key image as well. You have the power to annotate the image, share it with friends near and far, or in private. As a research, it has allowed me to create an inspiration board for assiut – and a links list to sellers, costumers, researchers, and fans like me. As a designer, pinterest gives me the tools to organize my images in any way I like, by project, subject, color, or fabrication. At the moment I write this, the assiut board curated by me, and my Cloth of Egypt co-author Alisha Westerfeld has over 970 images, with links to explore.


I have enjoyed having the power to share my visual research instantly with the world.

Wanna see more assiut?  Follow the link below.  Enjoy!

Assiut/Assuit Design

Vintage Assiut Fix – Poster of Hedy Lamarr as Delilah

samson-and-delilah-hedy-lamarr-1949Need a dash of vintage assiut to decorate your room?  Cannot afford antique textiles?  Well, here’s a fantastic compromise, buy a poster!

In 1949, Hedy Lamarr starred in the film Sampson and Delilah, and wore a drop dead gorgeous assiut ensemble designed by Oscar award winning costumer, Edith Head. This dress made a stir at the time for its opulence, drape, and revealing midriff.

The website All Posters has this image of Hedy wearing her assiut wearing her two piece ensemble features an asymmetrical cropped top that has a long dramatic drape that drops from her right shoulder to the floor.  Her floor length skirt is pulled up just enough to showcase her vintage shoes.

Best of all, it comes complete with her signature sassy style, glamorous pose, and take no prisoners glare!

Hedy Lamarr as Delilah picture at All Posters starting at $16.99.  Click Here for more Info.

Assiut/Assuit Design

Assiut in High Fashion: Etro Collection – Spring 2014

Assiut makes a splash on the high-fashion runway in the Etro spring 2014 collection during fashion week in Milan. Designed by Veronica Etro and inspired by vintage photos from her family’s Bohemian past, her collection includes beautiful silk floral and paisley prints the Italian design house known for.  These luxurious silk is paired with the drape and shine of modern assiut. Dresses, tanks, and fringed scarves made from densely embroidered assiut cloth add a vintage flavor to this lighter, brighter take on boho eclecticism.  Want to see more?  Be sure to watch the runway who’s to catch the back views of the assiut halter dress at center, and a gorgeous coat that moves with the weight and swing that only assiut can bring to a garment.

Watch the runway show on Fashiontv
See photos of the show over on Vogue
Photos below from