“Gone with the Wind” premiered in 1939. In one of the immortal scenes, Scarlet O’Hara, in desperate need of money to survive the civil war, cannot give up her Southern Beauty status. She takes down her velvet curtains and converts them into one of the most Iconic dresses on the screen & in fashion, known as The Green Velvet Dress. It was said that Margaret Mitchel, author of the novel, had gotten her inspiration from her grandmother’s drapes.
For that matter, we can also look into the history of the White House.
In 1814, while 4000 British soldiers were surrounding the White House, Dolly Madison, the First Lady at that time, gave instructions to save her China & silverwear, and nothing else other than the red velvet curtains from the Oval Room.
How surprising it was when a couple of years later, a flaming red gown, from a very heavy material, surprisingly turned up in Molly’s wardrobe.
Velvet is branded in our psyche as a typical symbol of Nobility.
It also carries a Heritage of Romance, passion, shady past & historical contradicting origins.
The Chinese claim it’s existence made of pure silk, from 403 BC.
Others claim that Egypt & Mesopotamia came first,
One thing is certain: The Silk Road made it possible for the silk to enter Europe, & thus, in the 12th century, there was the beginning of flourishing production of velvet in Italy. The standards were very high, pure silver & gold fibers were woven with the silk to produce a very exclusive product which was only for the very very rich Aristocracy & Nobility wore these elaborate gowns at the height of the Renaissance.
Only during the Industrial Revolution was velvet manufactured not just for the rich but also the new upcoming class of merchants. It was still considered women’s evening wear but was also used for menswear, coats & shoals.
Every generation has its own velvet.
The Hippie Flower children in the 70’s wore it in a Boho Eclectic look – no reference to any nobility.
The 80’s saw the return of Glamour.
The 90’s, with their tough grunge, brought in a crinkle form.
These periods brought on a short exile for the velvet. Moreover, velvet became a synonym for bad taste.
In 2009, top designers paved the way for the comeback of velvet. Marc Jacobs, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren & others, showed it on catwalks. It became huge overnight.
Since then the status of velvet was maintained.
Fall 2016/17 brought a variety of velvet materials, which all designers have embraced gladly.
Back to nobility, back to lush & luxurious, back to the comfort of the soft & appealing velvet.
“A Throne is just a chair wrapped in Velvet” – Napoleon Bonaparte