The Wardrobe: Birthday Outfit & Short History of Velvet
Sunday was my birthday and I spent the day my favorite way - shopping! I wore a simple, yet eye-catching outfit pairing some of my favorite pieces together. You've seen my black heeled oxfords about a thousand times, just as well as my red Zara bowling bag. The both have been absolute staples in my closet for quite a while. I feel the same way about this quite H&M dress that I just cannot get enough of. I dress it up and down and wear it all the time!
The star in the outfit, however, is the velvet biker jacket from H&M's fall 2013 collection. The moment I saw it I knew I had to have it! The velvet is a great spin on the classic leather jacket and I've always been fascinated by the richness of the lavish fabric.
The history of velvet began as early as 2000 BC in Egypt. The precious fabric was even included alongside extravagant gold jewelry in the inventory list of treasures belonging to Caliph Haroun al-Rashid dating from 809AD. Ever since then to the Renaissance through the Medieval era velvet was the the fabric of the royalty and the wealthy. It was highly valued not only for its richness in color and beautiful draping, but also because the hand weaving process was extremely slow and labor-intensive. During that period velvet was almost always woven of silk. To lower the cost of production sometimes linen or hemp was included to create the so called half-silk velvet.
Velvet remained a privilege of the upper classes for centuries, until the Industrial Revolution put the start of mass production, and luxury fabrics that were previously hand-made became considerably more affordable thanks to the mechanization. Today velvet is not only woven of silk or wool, but also of rayon or acetate, both of which served as substitutes for silk since the Second World War.
Velvet has gone a long way from the royals attire to today's catwalks without losing any of its magic. It has proved to be a versatile fabric that can look grunge, elegant, casual and even boho! Think of the beautiful draping robes in cardinal red that Sarah Burton created at Alexander McQueen inspiring a sense of royal opulence or the elegant evening wear we saw at Rochas' and Nina Ricci and finally of the velvet biker jacket at Christopher Kane which was probably the inspiration behind my more affordable version.
It seems velvet has made a comeback once again and it's not going anywhere so make sure to update your closet for Fall with a bold dress, an elegant skirt or a gorgeous shoe in the royal fabric!