Ready Made Vestments - What's Available

One of the things that LAJ both desires to do -- and has been asked to do -- is provide practical options for parishes and clergy today in the realm of the liturgical arts. Historical examples are important as a means of cultivating good liturgical taste and knowledge of historical precedent and they help to drive commissions, but it is also important to provide some of the ready-made options that exist.

Now, it is worth noting that, in this area, often the most impressive work will still be uniquely commissioned works of liturgical art based upon the liturgical tradition, but it is also the case that there can be a legitimate need for "off the rack" solutions as well. Commissions, after all, take time and financial resource; they also are likely the project of a lifetime, ultimately accumulated over many lifetimes. Not everyone is yet confident in pursuing those tailored commissions and some are literally starting from scratch and need to put together a decent sacristy in short working order.

So with that in mind, today I decided to go on a little "shopping" excursion, focusing on vestments; specifically vestments that are available as standard offerings from various companies. What I present here are some of the options that caught my attention.

My little sojourn first took me to Watts & Co. of London and their Holy Name vestment sets which comes in white, gold, red and green. What's more, you have the option to buy all the various pieces together or separately, including the maniple (how times have changed -- and for the better!). The set is inspired the the work of English gothic revivalist, AWN Pugin. From my perspective it is one of the best options presented today in the realm of the gothic shape for the reason that it's an attractive, historically fashioned set that is readily available, yet unique and at a good price point at around $970 USD.

The cut and orphrey pattern is representative of the earlier manifestations of the gothic revival and sets a nice change from the usual orphrey patterns you see today in gothic revival work.  The patterns on the orphrey look quite fine, employing a medievally inspired IHS monogram.  To really see the set shine, here is a picture of the same set in violet:

As you can see, it wears very well and the colours are magnificent. A good option for both forms of the Roman liturgy at a good price point.

Another real standout for me from Watts was this green dalmatic.

This one employs a really nice silk damask and the orphreys are exquisite. (This one is not strictly "off the rack" as the monogramed embroidery is a custom design for a particular customer, but a good example of the kind of work Watts can be commissioned to do and the basic dalmatic design is one of their standard offerings in various liturgical colours.)  I am absolutely delighted to see the use of tassels here. It adds so very much interest to the design of any dalmatic and tunicle I think.

Do also take a look at their black version of this -- and there you will see the base version of the orphreys. There are plenty of more over there of interest, including this violet solemn Mass set:

Our next maker is LAVS based out of Italy. LAVS has vested various popes, including Pope Benedict XVI and is known for their rich textures.  One of their vestments which jumped out me was their "LC700" model:

If you look closely, you'll see that there is a very nice bit of detail work going on here between the silk damask and the orphreys with its stones and other embroideries.  I think the very angular geometric shapes work well on a vestment such as this as it is a nod back to the medieval period.  The cut of the vestment looks as though it would wear very gracefully as well.

Another from LAVS that caught my attention was this violet cope which isn't really, "off the rack" but I want to share it nonetheless:

Here again we see some very refined details and beautiful stonework. The particular shade of violet used is particularly nice with the gold and the embroidery work and patterns are really quite spectacular. I'll say it again, this isn't an "off the rack" type item, but it is something LAVS can do for you. (Price unknown.)

Moving along again, if you're in "starting mode" and simply after a broad array of vestments in various colours that are inexpensive and reasonably attractive, then you may want to visit Zygzak in Poland who have all the liturgical colours (including black and rose) in a typical 1940's/50's era gothic revival style. Here's an example:

There's nothing especially exotic about these of course, but they are about the best "off the rack" type of gothic revival vestments you are going to find for the low price point of $400 USD. These would be a great option for travel vestments or for a newly starting out EF community who are just in need of some sort of vestments to get started on.  The only down side is they don't come with a maniple, but I would consider contacting them about this. At very least you might be able to purchase an extra stole and have it tailored down to a maniple.  The set does come with chalice veil and burse thankfully.

Zygzak also offers various baroque style vestments, including this green baroque set. Now baroque sets are not all equal and some cuts of the baroque are better than others. With regard to this green set,  my experience is that this particular cut shown here is likely better suited to someone with a slightly shorter and heftier build as they otherwise may look too wide. Admittedly I'm not particularly fond of the gothic scripted IHS monogram found on the front of the green and red versions of this, as it isn't really suited to this particular period of vestment in my estimation, however, as it is on the front, and this style is generally utilized for ad orientem, it's not particularly troublesome. It may be possible to ask them to change this as well.

My own sense is that if you are going to lay out this kind of money ($7100 USD) for a set like this, you're likely better off to have something commissioned from a custom vestment tailor to ensure the fit is right. On the other hand, if you're really after this classic 19th century, gold embroidered Italianate look, this might be worth considering.

Zygzak does offer a machine embroidered version of the white chasuble for half the price ($3500 USD) of that found above, and it actually appears that it could have a much better shape/cut (and without the IHS monogram on the front):

These are also available to purchase from Luzar Vestments in Oxford.

We move to the USA now and the Holy Rood Guild.  Here's a dignified gold chasuble in a gothic revival style that they call Beatissima:

It's pretty simple really, but it works and is dignified.

Also in the USA is the House of Hansen in Chicago.  They offer this gold set, DaVinci Gold (which, importantly, also comes with the option of a maniple) at the $800 price point and, no less important, also provide the option of having a matching dalmatic and tunicle custom made.

A decent set.

Luzar Vestments, who we already touched on above, deals in both antique vestments but also in new works.  Here are some examples coming from their offerings of new Roman vestments with prices beginning around the $750 USD mark and up.

Outside of the Roman, or baroque, style, Luzar also offers various gothic revival shaped vestments. One that caught my eye was this particular green solemn Mass set:

Of course, the focus here has primarily been on the "off the rack" vestments, but for a truly tailored experience, you will also want to consider custom vestments makers such as Davis d'Ambly (USA), Gardiner Hall (USA), the aforementioned Watts & Co. (UK), St. Bede's Studio (Australia), L'Atelier Romanitas (France),  Benedictus (Spain) or Luzar Vestments (UK).

I am certain we have missed other makers, and if so, do send them in.

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