Velvet: The Fabric
Who doesn’t enjoy the feel of a nice bit of velvet? Being birthed a child of the late eighties/early nineties in turn meant that around 98% of my mum’s wardrobe was made from the stuff. My burgeoning sexuality and subsequent preference for fashion may or may not have been formed by the just-on-the-pink-side-of-red crushed velvet scarf in our dressing up box, which, when wrapped around the body in the right fashion became a most elegante dress for a pre-pubescent boy. Combined with my mother’s favourite kitten heels (also velvet) and the rest, as they say, is history.
About time too, then, that the fabric, once upon a time reserved for the rich and the even richer, is having a revival. Velvet positively swathed the fall runways, the look: in velveto. Such was the volume of the stuff that it prompted much front row mutterings at the shows, “is it? Again?” and then, “but it does look… amazing?” Presumably much wardrobe rummaging followed, where frantic assistants were sent out en masse to try and find that midnight blue panne velvet two-piece their corresponding Editrices shoved to the back of the wardrobe sometime around the turn of the millennium. “What do you mean it’s not still in the King’s Road Oxfam where I left it ten years ago?!”
Velvet fever was much down to Miuccia Prada (isn’t it always?) who sent our rich drapes of the stuff, wrapped around her models chests as if they were carrying all their belongings upon their shoulders – rich gilded gowns sat alongside sporty quilted jackets, velvet shoes with chunky hiking socks. Velvet was incongruous, rich and somehow intellectual – because, well, it’s Miuccia. It place in the collection suggested travel, travel across borders, where exotic fineries became welded to the everyday.
Also in Milan, Giorgio Armani too suggested that velvet could actually become part of your everyday wardrobe. Because really, who doesn’t have the need in life for a pair of velvet jogging bottoms? Or, put differently, who doesn’t now that they’ve read that? The collection itself was a positive celebration, a riot, of the stuff, answering the age old dilemma with the affirmation that yes, one could survive on velvet alone. Up in Paris, clever Haider Ackermann found a new use – wrapping velvet around the models ponytails for instant Medusa-cum-raver gratification. Presumably not available to purchase, similar effects can be achieved at home via offcuts from fabric shop. Just twist and tie, ladies, twist and tie.
And then there was Vetements, because, well, there always is now, isn’t there? Just last night a (here unnamed) PRtold me that such was the proliferation of the French brand that in the last four weeks she thought people were perhaps subbing it’s name in place of other words. “Should we take the Vetements? (lift)” “How is your Vetements? (lunch)” “I love your Vetements (face)”. For Demna, velvet was insouciant, a velvet trench had a hoodie crammed underneath, whilst two-piece trouser suits were pitched on the shoulders as if in a constant state of question. Underneath? A checkered shirt. A kind of warped classics student what had just discovered local vintage store. And basically, as is the power of Demna, the woman/man that we now want desperately to be.
Our tips? Well, we suggest approaching velvet wholeheartedly. In our eyes, it’s the kind of fabric that deserves, nay demands, the “full look” treatment. Because who are we, mere fashion mortals, to argue with the latest trend du jour?
Photographs, by Jason Lloyd-Evans, from top to bottom – Prada, Haider Ackermann (left), Vetements (right), Giorgio Armani, all AW16.