March 5, 2015

Fringe Benefits

At Samuel & Sons Passementerie, Innovation, Imagination, and an Eye For The Unusual Bring Home The Bullion—and More.

by Judith Nasatir photographer Samuel & Sons

As for updating the classics, it does that in
grand style also, as these enchanting tassels
make so vividly clear.

Gimp. Soutache. Braid. Galloon. Rosette. Antiquated words for decorative ornaments of the old school? Think again. Passementeries, those sublime remembrances of the decorative arts past, are very much modern adornments, at least at Samuel & Sons Passementerie, the New York-based trimmings expert. The family-owned company's present- and future-tense approach to design's delightful, sometimes dangling details is what gives it its staying power. (It's been in the business since 1945.) So what exactly does that mean in tangible terms? Partly, it's a matter of materials. Among the company's more than 15,000 trims, there are the classics: cords, tassels, tiebacks, and all the rest, made, predictably though exquisitely, of silk, cotton, wool, and linen. Then there are the surprises: the gimps, moss and bullion fringes, braids, borders, and more made of leather, lace, grass, jute, coconut, various woods, and metals. Plus, there are the truly unexpected attractions: Venetian glass beads, semi-precious stones, cultured pearls, exotic wood species, seashells, and so on. There are shocks and pleasures of scale, color, and proportion to keep the eye engaged and the imagination on overdrive. What are the limits? According to Michael Cohen, the family member in charge of design and operations, and design director Marisa Gutmacher: creativity and craftsmanship.

With his father, Samuel, and his brother, Hymie, Cohen continues to push the limits of the possible to keep the firm's tassels and trimmings-and the firm itself-at the forefront of contemporary style. "We understand how to see and translate traditional forms into something relevant for today," he says. "Because we're just focused on trimmings, we're trying to make sure we have groundbreaking design." And they do, with collections by Lori Weitzner, Michael Smith, Roger Thomas, and, of course, Gutmacher and the Samuel & Sons Design Studio. If the company's in-stock collection should happen to come up empty, it also offers the possibility of custom trim, whether that means altering an existing design, creating a designer's vision from start to finish, or duplicating a vintage or antique piece.

With so many available options, Samuel & Sons makes it almost impossible to choose. Yet design is in the details-and these, its finishing touches.

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