Feature Friday: Empire Shawls
Winter weather is here, and with chilly temps and snowy days, warm accessories are even more important. But what if they were historically accurate and fashionable too? This month’s featured business, Empire Shawls, combines the best of both to keep you toasty in your historical kit and your daily life!
Since 2022, graphic designer and artisan Charo Palacios has been creating beautiful and unique shawls for historical reenactors and history lovers alike. “I created Empire Shawls to offer my fellow recreators an exclusive garment with specific characteristics that were important to me,” Charo explained.
But these shawls aren’t a mass-produced accessory or off-the-rack shape; rather, they are carefully designed pieces with limited runs, so each shawl is its own unique work of art. “They are shawls with ‘regency’ measurements, approximately 3 meters long by 138 cm, a size that is almost impossible to find in modern shawls or pashminas,” she continued. “Each series is limited to five shawls in cotton voile and only one in wool voile, so it is difficult for two people to match the same design at an event.”
Even more important, every part of the design and manufacturing process is thoroughly researched and well-thought out. “They are designs based on historical ones, but with a personal style, in many cases using mixed techniques, painting the motifs manually and finishing the design digitally so that they can be reproduced correctly.…The shawls are produced in Spain, complying with European labor regulations and with ecological inks,” she added.
Charo expanded on the benefit of wearing a modern recreation versus an original piece. “Another relevant factor for us is that these shawls are not antique jewelry, which allows us to wear them with peace of mind and even be able to wash them without fear,” she explained. “In fact, I can guarantee that if one of my shawls is lost or damaged, its owner could replace it with an identical one produced again for her.”
Not only can you find shawls based on historical examples, but you can also commission your own unique design. “As I say, for me it was very important to be able to offer a very special garment that would be the finishing touch to a credible outfit from the historical period that we recreated. Shawls are not only a garment to protect yourself from the cold or the sun, but they are an artistic element that adds visual value to our outfit,” Charo said.
While Empire Shawls may be a relatively new endeavor (Empire Shawls turns two this month!), Charo has been active in the historical scene for over a decade and a half. “I have participated in the world of historical reenactment since 2007,” Charo explained. “During that time I created accessories for other reenactors. Leather gloves, embroidered reticules, veils, bonnets, garters, even ball slippers under the Atelier Angelica Absenta brand. In 2020, I decided to change my business and focus on creating an element that is difficult and expensive for us to obtain: the shawl.…We have a wide heritage of textile design from different parts of the planet, the creation of textile patterns is a field that I hope to continue exploring and be able to offer my fellow reenactors new creations for a long time.”
You can find all of the beautiful shawls currently on offer at www.empireshawls.com, and you can follow Charo on Instagram (@empireshawls) for the latest on new designs and lots of behind-the-scenes looks at how each shawl is created!