Somewhere between these party scenes and punk rock, velvet got banished. A similar expulsion happened during the
Regency period. Etiquette renegade and style minimalist Beau Brummell turned up in tight, matte jodhpurs like the
sneering Johnny Rotten of his day. He rubbished velvet along with colour, frills and anything overtly ‘fancy’. He
was right, in a way. Looking manly in velvet can be a challenge.
Enter alpha-Texan Tom Ford with his 1994 collection for Gucci. Presenting a dark, plush take on
men’s evening garb, teamed with sexually charged images by Mario Testino, Ford made dressy gear fanciable again. In
more recent years, Ford’s eponymous label has done brisk business swathing nocturnal creatures in plush velvet
The night is velvet’s natural habitat. But, like urban foxes abandoning protocol,
nighttime items are appearing in twilight and daytime arenas. Spazzolato (v. shiny) or patent leather shoes, and
hybrid dress shirts have emerged blinking into the light. Other trappings of 1970s man-glam have also become
attractive of late. Yellow-gold watches and jewellery, lizard/croc bags and shoes, hairy chests with necklaces, and
wafer-thin watches are all looking appetising on the verve buffet. Dress slippers and even Cuban heels, maybe?
Tailoring in brown and burgundy has definitely been looking strong. The sartorial planets are aligned and velvet
looks to be on the ascent.
Tread carefully, however. Velvet does need to be rendered with an edge, so be sure you
find one. The facial-hair department is a possibility, as championed by Ford himself. I came adrift once, having
tried on a full Ford ensemble with stubble, loving the thing very much. Freshly shaved that night, I discovered I
was not channelling ’70s New York playboy, but amateur variety-club entertainer at a wedding. Maybe it was my dance
moves, but best approach the matter with a rugged caution regardless.