Velvet has many enemies. People who loathe its existence, wish it was never invented, and shudder at the thought of a post-90’s velvet revival. I can find that position mildly understandable; sure, there have been some velvet disasters. But for the most part I fall into the velvet-lovers camp because there are also many times when velvet can go so darn right that it’s hard to bear any long-standing grudge. If you’re a hater, don’t turn away just yet – as a 2010 fashion trend, and particularly as one of the major fall 2010 fashion trends, the velvet revival comes in many forms. You may just be pleasantly surprised.
Rochas Fall 2010
Velvet: the looks
Obviously velvet is a fabric that can be worn in many, many different ways. But to keep things simple and to inspire some thematic ideas, we’ve broken the trend up into four main looks.
Remember in the 90s when petticoat dresses and docs were cool, Courteny Love tapes were playing on your walkman, and crushed velvet became the fabric du jour? Well even if you don’t remember, take my word for it – it happened, and now the crushed velvet thing is back. Actually, all of it is except for the tape part. But I digress – if you want to go velvet-as-grunge by all means pull on your camisole, docs and velvet circle skirt and don’t even think twice about smudging on the black eyeliner and letting your hair get as dirty and messy as a back alley love affair. If you want to do velvety grunge with a modern, more sophisticated twist however, then look to the likes of Jil Stuart (plush velvet, boots and beanies) and Alexander Wang (pseudo-corporate tailoring and interesting cuts). Mix it up, sharpen it up, add in other elements of current fashion trends – and you’re well on your way to bringing the crushed velvet revolution out of the 90s and into the now.
Jill Stuart Fall 2010
The polar opposite to grungy, let’s not forget how velvet started out life: luxurious, and adorning the shoulders of the regal and the rich. True velvet made from silk falls and drapes with an unmistakable elegance, and that’s the look to go for if you’re going to do classic velvet. For Fall 2010 we saw it in the frocks of Bibhu Mohapatra and Dolce & Gabbana; in the body-hugging rich red velvet of Antonio Berardi; the floor-length, draping, vibrant colours of Nanette Lepore; the medieval puffed sleeves at Ralph Lauren; and the stunning, sweeping cobalt blues of Richard Nicoll. More images in the picture inspiration gallery.
Antonio Berardi Fall 2010
When it’s not being grunged up for the street or dished out on the red carpet, velvet’s been busy getting interesting, fanciful and even fun. Peter Jensen put velvet into puffy little tartan shorts. Zac Posen‘s flared-leg hippy pants and interestingly panelled tops were another unique take. In digging through the multitude of velvet looks from the Fall 2010 runways, however, none did I love quite so much as those by Julian Louis. Executed with an utter sense of whimsy and femininity, Louis’ subtle velvets in beige and rich midnight blue have all the allure of a vintage carnival. Look to the picture gallery for more examples. Have you turned yet, oh velvet haters?
Julian Louis Fall 2010
One of the most striking uses of velvet, a perfectly crafted velvet jacket or suit creates a to-die-for female dandy look. Look for historical tailoring – from Regency era men’s jackets and coats through to velvet blazers and suits that were popular in the 60s and 70s. D&G‘s mix of velvet waistcoats and jackets with hot pants or flowing white gowns was a unique way to mix it up. Karen Walker created a midnight blue velvet suit that hit the modernity nail on the head; and Rochas brought us this ruffled black ensemble (below). The velvet dandy look is completely opulent yet oh-so-sharp – don’t be afraid to go a little over the top.
Rochas Fall 2010
A note on fabrics
If you know your velvet from your velour, you’ll know that velvet is woven, traditionally using silk, while velour is its stretchier, knit, usually cotton-based cousin. Under no circumstances does the 2010 velvet trend extend to velour tracksuits. You heard me. On another note, velveteen is also similar to velvet – woven, though often from cotton.
Tips on wearing velvet
- Obviously the more classic the style, the more longevity. Slouchy crushed velvet minidresses with spaghetti straps, for example, are all but completely grunge and you may be best off making these a seasonal rather than a long-term investment piece.
- Capes and cloaks are awesome, in most any fabric (and OK I’m a bit biased, because I love capes). If you mix capes with velvet, however, it’s a recipe for turning invisible or getting sawn in half by a magician. I’m not saying don’t do it – just choose wisely or you’ll wind up looking like you belong at Hogwarts.
- If you don’t want to go all out on velvet clothing, don’t forget that you can always inject a bit of velvet into your wardrobe by way of accessories. Headbands, bows, handbags or gloves are some prime examples.
- And I’ve said this already but just to be sure… Sportswear may be in, velvet may be in, but the sum of these two parts does not equal velour tracksuits. Enough said.
Cavalli's bewitching yet flat campaign (video) (9 Jul 2011)