Founder & Creative Director
When you hear the word velvet, if it automatically conjures up thoughts of luxury, royalty and opulence, you are on the right lines because its history has all this and more.
Velvet production can actually be traced back to Egypt where fragments over 4000 years old have been found. The skills for this exotic and sumptuous fabric stayed firmly in the East until Marco Polo brought velvet back to Venice about 700 years ago. The Italians, with their innate sense of style and taste, knew a good thing when they saw it, so seduced by its beauty, immediately embraced velvet, trading it across Europe.
It's extraordinary to realise that velvet was so highly regarded in the Elizabethan era, wearing it was subject to strict laws. These governed not only what fabrics and textiles each section of society could wear but colours as well! So, whilst velvet could only be worn by the gentry, aristocracy and royalty – purple velvet was the preserve of Queen Elizabeth 1. And if you thought you might sneak some velvet in to your wardrobe, breaking the rules 500 years ago carried serious penalties from loss of property to even death! Thankfully things have changed, but it highlights why this cloth was, and still is so highly prized.
What is velvet: the word velvet actually refers to the technique of weaving the fabric not the fabric itself. The weaving technique for velvet is so skilled and time consuming, it has kept this unique textile firmly in the first division of luxury products for centuries. The key reason is that velvet is actually created from two parallel thicknesses, both woven at the same time. It is only when these are cut apart, (a bit like opening a sandwich), that the unique pile is created and the velvet we recognise is revealed
Why designers love velvet: the rich history of velvet, with its connotations of wealth and luxury have always ensured it is at the forefront of fashion textiles. There is no doubting its uniquely soft luxury feel, but it is velvet’s unique way of moving and playing as the light falls on it, which makes it so sumptuous and a delight for designers to work with.
Velvet - upcoming fashion trends: Velvet is set to storm the catwalk in a big way over the coming year. The use of velvet ties in to a 70’s style resurgence that will also bring with it ruffles and flowing fabrics. Think more Stevie Nicks less Austin Powers (yeah baby). Oscar de la Renta, Miu-Miu, Tom Ford and Marc Jacobs are all tipped to be including velvet in their collections for 2020.
Guinea has you covered: at Guinea London, we have always had a love affair with velvet and consider it one of the timeless classic fabrics. So, we are doubly pleased to hear that it is going to be so high profile in 2020. If you want to stay ahead of the curve and are looking for an investment piece then our beautifully tailored Motcomb Velvet Coat is the perfect coat for autumn/winter, available in blue, purple, dark green or black. All the coats come with our signature contrast linings in pink or mauve for that little flash of colour. We only use the finest Italian velvet at Guinea London – Marco Polo would be proud. We use 100% cotton velvet, which makes the fabric less prone to crushing and marking than silk velvet, but in line with Guinea’s preference for natural fabrics it is completely sustainable and natural, unlike synthetic velvet.
If you want to know more about our use of sustainable and natural fabrics check out the next blog in the series, (sign up below), when we will be putting wool in the spotlight.