Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Silk Velvet

Textile historians don't really know the date when silk velvets were first made and traded but they were carried along the fabled Chinese Silk Road that ran to and from Italy in the 12th century.

Romans likely first encountered silk in an expansion campaign against the Parthians in 53 B.C. The Romans kept exploring into what we know today as China. Trade was brisk between Asia and Persia and also with Egypt and around the shores of the Mediterranean Sea.

Chinese silk fabrics were traded in Venice as early as the 9th century, and the velvet manufacturing center of the world eventually became Florence, Venice and Genoa. These city-states dominated velvet manufacturing, as did Siena and Lucca until the 19th century.

In Persian textile history during the 11th and 13th centuries, silk brocades and velvets were used for clothing and home decoration elements.

We likely all know that blue "jeans" takes its name from Genoa, which made the wonderful indigo dyed cotton fabric. Velvet is an Italian word made from "vello", meaning fleece, and "velluto", meaning velvety or fleecy.

The way velvet catches the light, and seems to change color with every movement, it captivates royals and servants alike. When we think of festive fabrics and clothes, velvet always comes to mind. Silk is a traditional fabric of luxury and silk velvet is an especially alluring combination of shine and softness exuding drama and splendor.

Before WWII silk was quite common in American fashions because of our trade with China and Japan. Silk fabrics were produced in New Jersey during the 1800's. The US industry then had to look for silk substitutes, leading to the invention of nylon, as well as the increased use of older "synthetic silks", both rayon and acetate.

Silk velvet is a rather sheer and luxurious fabric and a joy to see, to feel, and to wear. Featuring design elements of the late 30s and early 40s, these 2 silk velvet dresses are in wonderful large sizes!


30s 40s Ruby silk velvet party M L dress






30s 40s Blue sapphire silk velvet XL gown




3 comments:

Distressing Delilah said...

That is gorgeous! Nice blog too!

Five and Diamond said...

Thanks for the history lesson! Beautiful dresses, too...

propriatrix said...

oh thanks ladies! I wondered about the history of silk velvet myself. I hoard pieces of it ....I have no idea what I might do with them....other than touch them from time to time.....wink (thanks also for the props on my blog!)