Decorative element or symbol of excess? That is the question woven throughout the history of the tassel. Simple streamlined specimens have been spotted in ancient Egyptian tombs, but the very rococo Louis XV was also apparently a fan. It was born of necessity—pre–dry cleaning, curtains needed tying back to protect them from the elements. Though designers still follow that practice, for most a tassel is now a kind of beautiful folly. Jonathan Adler perhaps best illustrates the point: “For me, tassels are the earrings of the home. I use them everywhere to add extra flair. Dreary lampshade? Tassel. Blah doorknob? Tassel.” And while the original members of the French passementerie guild were forbidden to use anything but real gold and silver bullion in their work, contemporary artisans find inspiration in everything from black patent leather to pheasant feathers.