Viva Velvet!

Velvet isn’t a fabric that comes out every day. Why is it that velvet has gained a reputation as a textile to be used sparingly? One theory is that velvet is simply too indulgent and thus reserved for special occasions. The notion isn’t far-flung considering the public seems to liken it to the so-called guilty pleasures to which the fabric has lent its name. Take the ubiquitous red velvet cupcake or Isabella Rossellini in the super-sexual thriller “Blue Velvet,” named for the haunting tune made famous by Bobby Vinton. After all, a fabric so lush just begs to be touched.

An equally plausible theory behind velvet’s occasional use is that designers have often missed the mark by using velvet in looks that appear outdated or matronly. If you subscribe to the latter but still love a remorse- and calorie-free indulgence, then velvet may just be your wardrobe’s newest winter-weather friend. (Is it just me, or does velvet make clothes look so comfy you could wear them to sleep?)

This season, designers have taken to the runways with fine flocked frocks and separates both regal and wearable. L’Wren Scott and Diane von Furstenberg take rich red velvet to the next level with elegant approaches featuring long sleeves and cinched waists – the latter a recurring element that’s vital for this thick material to optimize the female form. Scott stages a semi-structured look well-suited to petite figures, a close-cut dress with a demure boat-neck and dainty brooches that draw a diagonal to a hip-hanging bow. The von Furstenberg ensemble features a flattering deep-V and oodles of voluptuous gathers plus an empire cut for plenty of womanly give. Lose the loose flowing pants and you’re left with a sultry minidress.

From red velvet to blue, Ralph Lauren’s midnight-colored beaded number may be the most luscious look of the season. A column of body-hugging silk velvet proclaims sexiness and timeless glamour as a train trickles behind so delicately you forget it’s velvet at all. Romantic and royal, the classic silhouette gets topped with a draped collar of abundant gold adornments that’s ready for a ball.

Christopher Kane has made a distinct statement by balancing deep blue velvet with a basic yet interesting interlocking loop motif to elongate the shoulders and arms and minimize the waist. Slit open sleeves hang well past the hands, so Kane has you just dripping in velvet. Where does he come up with this stuff?

As Kane presents a velvet top, Haider Ackermann presents fluid and functional velvet bottoms. Meeting a sleek boot mid-calf, the black slacks add a bit of softness to an overall austere look showing just how versatile – even edgy – velvet can be. So grab that blazer you usually wear with boring slacks and have some fun at work this fall.

While you’re at it, spruce up the rest of your day or evening looks with plush velvet accessories. C. Wonder has a set of delightfully adorable smoking slippers fit for Her Majesty, and Monique Lhuillier’s luxe crushed velvet bootie boasts a daring and beautifully constructed design. Also in forest green, the fabric is a statement-making selection for arguably her best shoe of the season.

And if you’re still not convinced velvet has taken its finest turn yet, start with one of the lavish and stylish quilted clutches by Christian Louboutin or Alexander McQueen. One luscious touch and you might just launch a love affair.

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