Style / December 2019

Tipping the Velvet

First woven in China some 2,500 years ago, popular in Europe during medieval times and the Renaissance, this ever-so-tactile textile is once again having a moment.

Paul Sculfor photographed by Charl Marais for Issue 66 of The Rake.

Velvet splits the style electorate. Some sartorial professionals revile the fabric for its perceived lack of guts, while others simply can’t abide the type of louche character that gravitates to the cloth. A fresh referendum on velvet is required, however, as it’s recently come back on the style monitors (not least during the festive season). The mood has altered, and we are being tempted to take the velvet plunge.

Velvet’s most recent heyday was the late ’60s and early ’70s. Dressing up like Lord Fauntleroy was de rigueur. Studio 54’s legacy, plus films such as The Poseidon Adventure and The Towering Inferno pay testimony; they also demonstrate how tricky it is to appear rugged in velvet.

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