Interior Indulgence Of Textile Richness: The Luxury Of “Velvet”

Luxury In A Fabric:  Lush Velvet
Luxury In A Fabric: Lush Velvet

The rich texture of velvet. A luxurious fabric and symbol of luxury throughout time, for certain…

The term “Velvet” refers to the “weave and pile made of silk thread”. Velvet is described as “A type of woven, tufted fabric in which the cut threads are evenly distributed, with a short dense pile, giving it a distinctive feel”. Velvet is also known as a “warp-pile fabric” which means that is has “one set of filling yarns and two sets of warp yarns. The second set of warp yarns can be cut or uncut”. And then of course, a more elaborate description: “Velvet is a warp-pile fabric, meaning that is woven with one set of weft (horizontal) fibres and two sets of warp (vertical) fibres, the second set of which are evenly cut to create the distinctive soft pile. Velvets are woven on a special loom that weaves two layers of fabric, one above the other, that are connected by the extra set of warp threads; the warp threads are then cut to produce two sheets of fabric that are wound up on separate rolls.” Complicated yet interesting. The glory of a fabric and the craft of weaving it. Of note, the word “Velvety” is used as an adjective to mean “smooth like velvet”. Smooth, indeed.

Of course, understanding the history of a fabric certainly adds to an appreciation of a textile…
Traditional silk fiber velvet denotes the utmost luxury in a fabric layered within the history of textiles. History states that the Egyptians used a technique with looped pile similar to the one that is utilized in velvet production. Who knew? Throughout the centuries from the Medieval era through the Renaissance and beyond, the appeal of velvet has never faded. Of interest, it was during the Renaissance that the luxurious fabrics of velvet were made of silk and precious metal threads. Thus velvet was perhaps among the most valuable items owned by the individuals who layered in these rich fabrics as well as the churches that were adorned with palatial velvet within their enclosed spaces. Alas, it was the upper classes, royalty and nobility, who owned garments and layerings of plush velvet. In fact, in 1399 King Richard II of England declared in his will that his body should be clothed in “velveto”. Royal luxury defined.

King Richard II (1367-1400)  Reigned 1377-1399-
King Richard II (1367-1400) Reigned 1377-1399-

History finds that between 1400-1600 European artistic velvets were woven by weavers of the Italian peninsula (including Lucca, Genoa, Florence and Venice) as well as Spain. Spain is said to excelled at weaving patterned velvet textiles. Of note, Venice, Florence and Genoa are stated to have traditionally been recognized as the Italian centers of high-quality velvet production. During the mid 15th century, Milan’s silk industry was also recognized with its importance in the production of velvet. The art of velvet weaving would eventually pass to the artistic hands of Flemish weavers. In fact, during the 16th century Bruges attained a reputation for velvets equal to the works of the great Italian cities. The world of textiles expands, indeed. With the allure and demand for this woven textile of extravagant and grand design, it was the seaports of Venice and Genoa which would provide availability abroad in both Western and European markets. Merchants are said to have searched for the most brilliant shades dyed with the highest reliable dyes available (which would not fade with time or with light exposure). Oh, the lure of the rich colors produced of this luxurious fabric! And of the perennial favorites of that time? Crimson red, bright green and ‘sapphire’ blue. Timeless, indeed.

In appreciation of a craft it is important to note that the craft and production of velvet was a highly competitive industry which is said to have often resulted in espionage. Again, who knew? The quality and coveted “secrets” of the dyeing process were carefully guarded. In fact, the highest skilled weavers are said to have often been prohibited from leaving their native cities for the fear of sharing their knowledge and expertise with rival manufacturers. Imagine! Of course, imitations would abound, regardless. With the evolution of time, history would find the Industrial Revolution as being credited with the availability for all to experience the luxury that for centuries was beyond their reach. A royal fabric of history available for the masses…

“The silk craft is a very noble art, worthy of being plied by any true gentleman. It is a craft that exalts the rich and helps the poor; and great skills are needed to ply it since it involves and infinitude of operations; no one is to be found who is capable of doing on his own the many tasks that it involves”
-Unknown 16th century Renaissance writer

The sumptuous and rich fabric of Velvet can be made with the traditional silk threads, natural fibers or synthetic fibers. The types of velvet are “Cut Velvet” (the most common type with a plan weave and a cut pile), “Crushed Velvet” (Pressing the fabric or mechanically twisting the fabric when wet), “Devore” (A process that dissolves part of the velvet leaving sheer areas of fabric), “Embossed” (A metal roller heat-stamps fabric to create a pattern) “Hammered” (A dappled and somewhat crushed lustrous effect), “Panne`” (like crushed, forcing the pile in a single direction by applying heavy pressure), “Plain” (commonly made of cotton), “Silk” (Shiny, soft and most expensive form), “Velveteen” (imitation velvet and weft-pile fabric with a shorter pile made either of cotton or cotton and silk) and “Velour” (Cotton fabric with a deep pile and heavier weight commonly used in upholstery and draperies). Alas, perhaps the velour fabric is the textile which drapes our world today.

However we layer our world with this fabric that denotes the velvet texture is a delight to immerse ourselves within and surround our spaces with. Luxurious textile delight, for certain…

Woven Delight:  The Textural Bliss Of "Velvet"
Woven Delight: The Textural Bliss Of “Velvet”
Beautiful Luxury:  Velvet
Beautiful Luxury: Velvet
Looped "Pile" Of Soft Texture:  "Velvet"
Looped “Pile” Of Soft Texture: “Velvet”
Layers Of Textural Bliss:  Velvet
Layers Of Textural Bliss: Velvet
Luxurious Textile: "Velvet" Within The Interior
Luxurious Textile: “Velvet” Within The Interior
Elegance With Fabric:  "Velvet"
Elegance With Fabric: “Velvet”
Rich "Velvet" Textures Within The Interior
Rich “Velvet” Textures Within The Interior
Muted  "Velvet" Within The Interiors
Muted “Velvet” Within The Interiors
Soft & Luxurious:  Velvet
Soft & Luxurious: Velvet
Layers Of Velvet Within The Interior
Layers Of Velvet Within The Interior
Visual Textural Luxury:  Velvet
Visual Textural Luxury: Velvet
Plush Drama Of Textural Luxury:  Velvet
Plush Drama Of Textural Luxury: Velvet
Velvet Embellished  Interiors
Velvet Embellished Interiors
Smooth, Luxurious Style:  Velvet
Smooth, Luxurious Style: Velvet
Velvet Appeal Within The Interior
Velvet Appeal Within The Interior

Consider layering your interior spaces in the soft, deep, rich colors or muted delight in plush velvet. A rich fabric once reserved for royalty and the elite world that could attain it, the layering of our interior spaces in visual, textural luxury is achievable for all. No longer reserved for the Winter season, the allure of velvet has gained a year-round appeal. An appreciation is at hand either way for the visual delight of the texture and color of velvet. Interior indulgence in textile richness, indeed…

Kristin

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