Note: We no longer offer the service of making vestments. If you are interested in commissioning a very special set of vestments inspired by historic examples, we can still source these types of fabrics and provide them to a vestment tailor of your choosing.
The following text explains our attitude towards vestments:
The slideshow above shows a selection of historical Orthodox vestments, mostly 17th-century Russian, which are the inspiration for our designs. These were made from splendid polychrome silk damasks from Italy and the Ottoman Empire. The Russians combined these imported damasks with exuberant trims and embroidery, creating vestments of a uniquely eastern character. In contrast to the monochrome fabrics favored by the West, Orthodox vestments always favored damasks containing many colors in rich oriental harmony.
Later, when the Russian church adopted western-style architecture and painting, she also imitated the jewel-tone monochrome vestments of Catholicism. Such vestments look well in the vast austere spaces of NeoClassical cathedrals, but they never harmonized with the subtler richness of old church interiors. Along with monochrome vestments came the imported notion of liturgical colors, dictating that every church must have complete sets of vestments in many different colors. This practice is foreign to Orthodoxy, which previously had only stipulated light or dark vestments in the canons.
During the ‘Byzantine Revival’ of the early 20th century, vestment makers designed vaguely medieval looking fabrics, usually with a profusion of small crosses. But they failed to revive the fundamental aesthetic of oriental textiles, which is big patterns and polychrome richness. Twentieth-century Orthodox vestments, with their small patterns and garish colors, do not read well from a distance, nor do they harmonize with the subtle colors of traditional iconography. Furthermore, the fabrics and trim are usually polyester, which is noticeably disappointing compared to fine silk and cotton.
We have searched the world for fabrics that resemble those once used for Orthodox vestments. Fortunately, fine Italian and Ottoman damasks are still replicated for use in draperies and upholstery in European mansions. We import these fabrics and recommend combining them with thick silk lining and pure cotton trims. Such vestments recreate not only the beauty, but the intrinsic quality and authenticity of historic examples.
Inevitably, fine vestments are somewhat more expensive than modern polyester vestments. However, according to the traditional Orthodox usage, a church does not need so many vestments as is nowadays customary. Canonically, all a church needs is a festal set and a penitential set. And there is no need for all the clergy and servers to have matching vestments. Old paintings of Russian services demonstrate that everyone wore the finest vestments they had, and there was no need for them to coordinate. The mismatched richness of this antique aesthetic is a good match for traditional iconography, which likewise represents a polychrome harmony of styles and colors of dress.
Our festal vestments are made from a heavy cotton/silk brocade woven with a traditional Ottoman design. This fabric is among the most beautiful we have ever found, and its red and white colors make it ideal for Pascha. It is trimmed in richly textured mercerized cotton tape ornamented with 24k-gold-plated beads. The lining is heavy silk satin.
Display model shown in photographs available at discounted price of $2000.
Our rich gold set is highly suitable both for feast days and for the Pentecost season. The body fabric is a silk/linen blend damask of extraordinary beauty. It is pure rich gold in color, exactly matching the color of gold leaf in icons. It looks like molten liquid gold in one’s hands. We combine this body fabric with a panel of woven tapestry fabric as the yoke piece. It is a thick cotton/viscose blend with a beautiful and lively 17th-century design in green and plum on an ivory background. The combination of the rich gold with this exuberant yoke-piece is intensely beautiful and dignified.
This magnificent dark set is purple according to the older meaning of the word. Historically, purple referred to dark and somber color lying between burgundy and eggplant. It is a color that could be achieved with natural dyes (not unlike the dark red of Oriental carpets), and is quite unlike the garish violet of modern Lenten vestments. True purple fabrics can be seen in good traditional iconography, and our vestment coordinates well with icons. It is a great improvement over violet vestments, whose brilliant color is alien to a traditional church interior, and is neither somber nor penitential.
The body fabric is a very durable cut velvet of deep and serious color. The yoke piece is a heavy cotton/viscose tapestry in olive-green and purple. They are separated by an embroidered trim in dark steel-blue. These bold textures and patterns make for a tremendous visual impact both close up and from a distance.
Our Light Ivory/Gold set is a good choice for priests who want a lighter-weight vestment. The body fabric is a silk /viscose or cotton/viscose blend damask available in various shades of ivory to white. The hood is a rich and subtle light-gold damask with a pattern reminiscent of Old Slavic decoration. They are separated by an elaborate 3” wide woven border.
Our Light Tapestry/Velvet Set makes a tremendous impact on feast days. Elegant and delicately colored, it resembles some antique vestments still in use on Mount Athos. The body fabric is a marvelous 17th-century tapestry design, cotton/viscose blend with metallic gold highlights. The yoke piece is a salmon-pink cotton velvet.
Our Green Tapestry/Velvet Set is patterned with lively flowers and birds, well suited to the feast of Pentecost. The body fabric is an exuberant 17th-century tapestry design, cotton/viscose blend with metallic gold highlights. The yoke piece is a green cotton velvet.
The Blue Velvet Set is one of our most refined and dignified designs. Strongly medieval in character, it juxtaposes cut and printed velvets for a uniquely tactile aesthetic. The body fabric is a very durable cut velvet of dark ivory color. The yoke piece is cotton velvet printed in indigo-blue with an antique Ottoman design. They are separated by an embroidered cotton tape of steel-blue color.
Our Light Blue Set features a splendid cotton/silk brocade as the body fabric. It is a soft sky-blue in color with a very large 16th-century design in dull brass-colored metallic silk fibers. The yoke is a dark ivory cut velvet. They are separated by a 3” wide elaborate woven band. This vestment has a soft and tactile quality of great refinement.
Our Rich Red Set is probably our most visually spectacular vestment, well suited to festal use in a cathedral. The body fabric is durable cut velvet of an impressive deep ruby red color. The yoke piece is a cotton/silk brocade with a large medieval design in dark red and brilliant metallic gold. They are separated by an embroidered dark red band.