Velvet: love it or loathe it?
Blogger Emily Johnston of Fashion Foie Gras and designer Tabitha Webb are fashion-loving friends who don’t always see eye to eye when it comes to what to wear. Velvet flies onto their fashion radar in this week’s column, but is the sumptuous fabric fabulous or frumpy?
Velvet… just the word conjures up memories that send shivers down my spine. My mind immediately reverts to Christmas past when I was ten years old and sitting in a velvet midi-dress. It was too hot, it had a scratchy lining and it made me feel like a Christmas stocking. But it was a Yuletide tradition for the girls in my family. We were slaves to velvet ensembles. And so, as a grown-up 36-year-old, I have an irrational fear of all things velvet. The silky-soft texture might as well be razor blades to me.
While writing about the autumn/winter 2016 shows, I had to force myself to sound excited about the velvet revival. Well, the truth’s out: I can’t wait for it to be over. But until that happy day, here are a few tips to avoid velvet holiday horrors.
Lanvin Sugar mini quilted velvet bag in plum, £940, from net-a-porter.com
The good news starts – and stops – with velvet accessories. The velvet block heel is the hippest way to work the look. Go to Asos for high street and Chloé for high end. And the anti-velvet brigade can opt in with a handbag. Even I fell in love with Lanvin’s Sugar mini quilted shoulder bag. It’s a thing of beauty, people. And, yes, seeing Heidi Klum in a chic velvet blazer the other day has even made me question my own anti-velvet views.
At the end of the day, every trend is merely a fashion suggestion. Wear it only if you love it. Otherwise, move on and find another way to fly your fashion flag. I’ve always said the best look is confidence. Man, did I just sound like your mother there or what? But it’s still good advice.
Mention velvet and the first thing that pops into my cake-adoring mind is my favourite pick-me-up – red velvet cake. If only cake could make me happy and thin. But wearing real velvet is cool again – just in time for Halloween.
Jessica Chastain’s wearing it. Kate Hudson’s wearing it. I’m wearing it. And my husband? He’s so on trend he has never stopped wearing it: he has an utterly divine vintage blue velvet jacket in which he looks ravishingly handsome (well, I think so).
Anna Sui Velvet Cape, £530 from net-a-porter.com
Think of velvet as an ageless fabric free from the old rules. Use it as an accent with a pair of velvet boots – check out the embroidered Laurence Dacade ones, very Gwyneth Paltrow – or drape yourself in it from top to toe, just as Emily Ratajkowski did in her crushed-velvet yellow trouser suit.
I am not suggesting we can all pull off full-body velvet in quite the same way, but I am pretty sure that we can all pull off Isa Arfen’s stunningly gorgeous three-quarter-length lilac crushed velvet coat. If that’s too much for you, then head to Zara for a few practice pieces, such as must-have cami tops and a little slip dress in black. Sexy. Understated. And still cool.
Finally, there is Halloween, a date with which velvet fits perfectly. Channel your inner Dracula with Anna Sui’s black velvet cape draped round your shoulders, accessorised with a few mini pumpkins. Chuck in a velvet Halloween mask from River Island and you’ll be the talk of trick or treat. Who needs cake?