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Velvet: The Cloth of Kings

Charlie Allen

By Charlie Allen, Designer and Bespoke Tailor from London
Site: www.charlieallen.co.uk Instagram: @charlieallen_bespoke Facebook: @CharlieAllenTailors

The party season is looming over us once again. Christmas and the New Year are approaching with alarming speed. Perhaps you feel jaded even at the prospect. Rekindle your enthusiasm and take the opportunity to make an impact this year with an evening jacket in velvet, perhaps in a luxury blend such as cashmere or silk.

For centuries, Italy was the European centre for velvet production, meeting demand for this extravagantly expensive fabric from royal courts and nobility across Europe. But the fabric has its origins in cultures further east. Early evidence of velvet production can be traced to ancient Egypt, Iraq and China, where samples have been found dating back to the Qin dynasty of 200 B.C.E. Originally, velvet was woven from silk and required a highly complex and time-consuming production process. It was a fabric whose opulence was valued by the rich and only within reach of the elite. Nineteenth-century innovations in production technologies made the fabric more accessible; nevertheless, velvet retained its luxurious connotations. Sumptuous velvet patterns are indelibly associated with the decadent fashions of the 1920s.

Charlie Allen

Charlie Allen

The velvet evening jacket is once again asserting itself in modern menswear. Velvet is notably a romantic fabric, and its unique nap invites the choice that it be cut in one of two ways. For my designs, I prefer to cut with the pile. This way, the fabric looks much lighter and glossier. However, if it is cut against the pile, as is very popular in French and Italian fashion, it catches the light differently and appears darker.

Velvet is my personal fabric of choice for evening jackets because it adds a distinctive touch of luxury in marked contrast to the standard evening look. And when it comes to colour, think beyond the traditional men´s choices of burgundy or black. This season, we have had several commissions for eveningwear in unconventional colours such as Persian blue and burnt orange. Dramatic, almost theatrical, a velvet evening jacket will always instill its wearer with confidence.

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