Velvet— a textile synonymous with luxury, quality and class—is having a moment. It’s everywhere—from the New York Fashion Week runways last month to swanky restaurants and hotel lobbies to the floors of every furniture store in existence.
We knew it was coming when Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop debuted collaboration with CB2 last year. The collection’s center-of-attention piece is its slinky pink cotton-velvet Curvo sofa.
Why velvet now: As luxury interior designers, we’re always ahead of the curve when it comes to the best new offerings in high-end design. But this trend is a no-brainer. In our increasingly high-tech world—where everything we use and touch is hard-edged and super-sleek— soft, cushy velvet is a touchy-feely remedy that gives us comfort, just like a warm, fuzzy security blanket. Even Curbed called out the trend in a big way last month with a longform post titled “The rise of velvet in the age of attainable luxury.”
But here’s our informed prediction: We think velvet has become a mainstream option and will stay here. Rather than an attainable luxury, it’s now a cost-effective standard. That’s because every type of velvet, not just the ultra-plush versions woven out of silk or mohair, is a realistic option for anyone (though truthfully, you get what you pay for; more economical versions of the textile are not as opulent, long-lasting and dazzling as high-end options). The fact that velvet isn’t a fabric but rather a weave, and advances in fabric technology, have made this transition to mainstream possible.
All about velvet: This begs a short explanation of the term and the different textiles it’s spawned. Velvet refers to the structure of the fabric, not the fiber, as this excellent post on startupfashion.com explains. It’s woven with raised loops or tufts that cover its surface, and different fibers and techniques are used to make different types of velvet (for example, silk, cotton or mohair all yield different very different types of velvet textiles, while twisting the fabric when it’s wet to distort the pile produces a crushed effect and applying pressure results in a panne patten). And velour is knit, not woven, which makes it an entirely different fabric.
High-performance and indoor-outdoor velvets: Of course, the industrial revolution mechanized weaving, making it easier to produce velvet. But since it was often made using fine silk or mohair yarns, velvet has managed to retain its association with luxury—and its fragility. Until recently, velvet wasn’t stain-proof, often stiff (especially when made of mohair) and delicate. Today, the performance fabric movement has spawned workhorse velvets that not only resist mildew, mold and inclement weather but also are elegant, sophisticated, longwearing and shockingly attractive. Our favorite cases in point are the sumptuous, all-weather, high-performance velvets from Lee Jofa, Holly Hunt and Schumacher, which are as sumptuous as the velvets in their regular lines.
How to bring it into your home: Regardless of its fabrication or finish, velvet’s best attributes—it’s soft, plush texture and rich color saturation—makes it a star. It adds immediate opulence and glamor wherever it’s used. Since velvet is here to stay, our advice is to always go for the gold—namely the best quality version possible to fulfill your needs. Below, see our ideas about where to incorporate velvet in your home.
01 Apr 2019