Velvet is an unfriendly and unforgiving fabric as it demands a lot from the wearer and the maker. Yet, it can pack a sartorial punch if worn to perfection. Velvet reigned the ’90s with all its glory, and today many designers have again made velvet their muse for Fall/Winter 2016 collections. From London Fashion Week to the glittering runways of Milan and Paris, velvet enthralled audiences across the world. Embroidered, treated, printed and patched, Velvet was all over the runways and is being seen as a major fashion trend. Adapting the trend in the collections, exporters in India, have distinctive approach towards this fabric. Some think of it as an influential trend, whereas some feel it to be just a fad…
Having made appearances at Alexander Wang, Valentino, Lanvin, and Christopher Kane, velvet is one noticeable fabric that has taken over the autumn ’16 aesthetics, and it’s taking over the inventory at majority of favourite retail stores too. Already big with leading retailers like Zara, J.Crew, Net-A-Porter, Topshop and Pixie Market, velvet is increasingly seeping into even smaller stores.
The most raging styles in velvet range from cut-outs, embossed detailing and embellishments to burnout patterns, incorporated in cocktail dresses, blazers and pants with very little detailing to let the imperial fabric stand out on its own.
At the ongoing fall 2016 runways, designers gave a distinct velvet touch to their collections which just could not be missed. From casual pants to eveningwear glamour, the fabric makes a strong comeback for the upcoming season. Avinash Wanvari, MD, Khushi Tex, discussing about velvet avers, “Velvet has continued to be a major hit in the home furnishing segment, but had taken a backseat as far as apparels are concerned. But since the last two fall seasons, it seems to be ’90s all over again.”
Velvet is hardly a new trend, but this season, designers gave the rich fabric a nice little update on the runways. At Monse, Oscar de la Renta alums Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia sent down a beautifully draped pink velvet dress, while M. Martin designers Jennifer Noyes and Alex Gilbert gave their velvet a metallic sheen via an olive green jumpsuit. But for those who prefer classic black, Adam Selman, Derek Lam and LaQuan Smith sent down the catwalk appealing versions of the black velvet dress for fall 2016.Arvinder Singh Sawhney, Director, Sawhney Brothers, explaining about velvet’s comeback said, “Velvet has been given a fresh new identity as different textures are explored to create gripping surfaces. Destined as a plush fabric, this year, it was rendered a more delicate and ornamental state of being by employing various innovative insertions – shearing, adding appliqué, laser cutting, lacing, needle punch destruction and checkerboard weaves.”
Inspiring creativity, in his fall 2016 collection, Jason Wu moved his women in a more streetwear direction with loose and youthful shapes. Wu used velvet on slinky separates for gamine chic. Ralph Lauren took on the trend with impressive gowns in colourful hues. Emilio de la Morena’s historically significant dresses that flaunted lingering tassels and magical stripes lifted the Victorian era from the pages of history books and onto the contemporary stage. Other designers who managed to pack velvet in and out with their designs were Christopher Kane, Antonio Marras (floral and stripes) and Givenchy (velvet and lace-panelled). Lanvin’s one-sleeved dress trimmed in velvet proved to be a winner as did Chloe’s strapless dress festered with many-a-half-moon.
Season’s favourites include deep dark colour tones like royal blue, burgundy, black and green on pants, jackets, skirts, dressy silhouettes and even shoes for a pleasant change.
Marc Jacobs’ collection was all about eclectic style–calling back looks from previous seasons as well as looking to the future, finished with slouchy velvet dress serving gothic vibes. Even Giorgio Armani’s collection concluded with a smattering of starry evening looks, black velvet sprinkled with crystals and laser-cut into floral lace, that will make it to a red carpet in the very near future. Trussardi also hopped on the velvet bandwagon designing a simple suit paired with knee-high riding boots. Sukesh Kumar Vij, MD, Asian Apparels, explaining about his experimentation with velvet says, “Wide trousers, flowing dresses, and capes are some of the examples which prove the fact that this time crushed velvet doesn’t just belong to the tracksuit category.”
As it is all about the luxury and indulgence with rich velvets taking the lead, the collections reflect opulence. The lush textile was printed, embroidered, slashed, ripped, patched and panelled to make its way towards the high-fashion segment. Balmain showcased sheer gowns garnished all over with sparsely placed patches of velvets complete with tinkling beads. Tanya Tailor chose the shades of purple and covered the entire silhouette’s surface with soft flower bunch patterns. Gagan Singh, Partner, United threads agrees that velvet is growing and being used much more than it was in previous seasons. “Velvet panels as trims are the most popular value-added with my overseas clients today,” he says.
In an interesting adaption, velvet appearing to be prints from afar was attached in multiple textural dimensions through layers of denim as the 3-dimensional nature of the surface lent an unrivalled richness and opulence to the clothes, in deep and raw blues and blacks, mid-casts and pale baby shades. Innovative designs also included the fuzzy fabric being attached through flocking or as a patch appliqué for an interesting interplay of textures. Dolce & Gabbana used velvet appliqué, spread over a coat in an intricate floral pattern, whereas Derek Lam flock printed the textured motif onto a skirt. A rather colourful approach was taken by Valentino with velvet being sewn in florals to depict his fairy tale theme while, Alexander McQueen used the fabric as a leaf motif with intricate fur detailing. A reinvention of the fabric on others can be experimented, with as a print imitation or simply as surface ornamentation.