“And now, I’m just trying to change the world, one sequin at a time.” – Lady Gaga
On days when I am feeling ho-hum – a lot of my mood can be changed by throwing on a metallic, sequined dress. No longer just for New Year’s Eve and special occasion, I slip into a bedazzled frock, or blinged out blazer, often. Sequins, often thought of as “cheap” or “trashy” actually have quite the classy origins. The word “sequin” a loose translation into French of the Italian word zecchino, which was a gold coin that was issued in the medieval centuries in Republic of Venice and Ottoman Empire Era Turkey.
Vintage pre-war Belgian, Czechoslovakian, and Japanese sequins thanks to Pugly Pixel.
This doesn’t seem so far fetched when you think of gypsy scarves with stitched on coins (ala Esmerelda in Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame). At one point in history, many nomadic peoples had to travel with their possessions – thus attaching coins to outfits! Some people argue that the word “sequin” might also comes from the Arabic word sikka, meaning “coin”. Both words of origin mean represent a type of currency – so maybe the etymology happened simultaneously?
Most sequins today are made of plastic, but they used to be made of metals. In the United Kingdom sequins are known as “spangles” – I actually cannot say the word “spangle” aloud without an English accent…
Sequins are having resurgence with the advent of the Great Gatsby-meets-Jazz Age-cum-1920’s-Flapper fashion craze or because of Liberace’s return to the spotlight! Although I associate these decorative, glittering discs with Art Deco style (and some others with The Golden Girls), there is evidence of the adornment dating back to 2500BC!
Shine On You Crazy Diamond, just don’t confuse the classic sheen for glitter!