Carola Long: Stick to short, tailored or clingy shapes and avoid anything reminiscent of Interview with the Vampire
Saturday 12 December 2009
For years, velvet has been decidedly passé. Only 'Young Musician of the Year' finalists, Goths partial to a frock coat, astrologers and Sloanes of a certain age still cling to the regal fabric. The last time it was 'le dernier cri' in plush chic was the mid-Nineties, as anyone who attempted to follow fashion back then will recall. A crushed velvet bodycon dress with a sweetheart neckline and, a few years later, a pair of bootcut velvet trousers from Morgan which I believed were indistinguishable from Tom Ford's cult pair for Gucci in 1995, were key features of my teenage wardrobe.
What a shame I can no longer squeeze myself into that mini-dress (it must have shrunk in the wash) because there has been something of a velvet revolution this autumn. Both Chloé and Sonia Rykiel showed black velvet, high-waisted, loosely tapered trousers, while the former label even boasted black velvet dungarees with gold chain detailing on the straps. Black might be the most classic choice but jewel colours, as seen at Prada in the form of coats and slashed-front dresses in plum and flame devoré, look particularly striking, as did the strips of fern, gold and violet velvet arranged geometrically on shift dresses at Christopher Kane.
The Eighties gave us some more disturbing images of velvet – remember those frumpy dresses worn to balls? However, if you stick to short, tailored or clingy shapes and avoid anything reminiscent of 'Interview with the Vampire' then the tactile textile can look sophisticated and even rather mysterious. On the high street, Asos's jade-green mini-dress with exaggerated shoulders is suitably 'velvet redux'. Avoid the other pitfall of playing it too safe and classic; a black cocktail dress à la Audrey Hepburn is too Glyndebourne. Instead, since separates in statement textures are a more modern party option than dresses, try harem-style trousers – H&M have a black pair with a daringly low crotch – or a playsuit such as Topshop's sweet black velvet version with its long sleeves and little gold studs (right, £95). Wear with flats for a bohemian, subtly sexy look that won't make you look as if you are off to Jeffrey Archer's for some shepherd's pie and champagne.
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