New Vivacious Velvets
Who doesn’t love a bit of sensually soft velvet? Who can’t resist stroking this sumptuous wonder of the fabric world as they pass a velvet chair in a showroom? We definitely have our hands ( and feet! ) firmly stuck in the air, shouting ‘us,us,us!’
We at Blackpop adore our velvet fabrics and most of our wallpaper designs are usually available in this most deliciously tactile of fabrics too.
Neo 13 available in fabric and wallpaper
Our most recent The ‘Collector’s’ Collection was an exciting collaboration with the fascinating treasure trove of a museum that is ‘Sir John Soanes Museum’ and resulted in 5 wallpapers and 3 velvets with ‘Hampton Gold’ and ‘Neo13’ only available as wallpaper. Well, after numerous requests and hysterical pleadings (ok, just requests) we decided to show that we do value our client’s, friends and social media follower's opinions and release the remaining two designs as velvets, and boy, were they right - we are so, so pleased with the results and the reaction to them has been so positive and flattering that we are proud to add them to the latest collection and indeed, to our ever growing selection of velvet fabrics which are suitable for curtains, cushions, upholstery or just plain comfort stroking.
The history of velvet is absolutely rife with associations of luxury, indulgence, wealth and status with those associations still relevant today - pretty amazing in today’s consumer, throwaway, ‘buy it cheap’ society and there’s definitely a noticeable difference between the feel, quality and longevity with the British cotton velvet we favour using and the polyester offerings
which tend to flood the high street.
Velvet And Royalty
Velvet has always been a luxury item, a fabric once an unattainable luxury to the masses, possessing the rich depth of colour, texture and pattern only available to the very wealthy, which is where it’s Royal associations began.
Thought to originate in Ancient Egypt and favoured by Egyptian Royalty, the version of velvet that resembles our modern version the most, was developed in China around 400BC, spread to the Middle East, then Europe with the most skilled workers been in Greece, Turkey and Cyprus.
After the late Medieval and Renaissance period, production in Spain and Italy really came to the fore with competition in Italy becoming so stiff and techniques so closely guarded that skilled crafts people were often forbidden from leaving the city where they lived and worked to protect their secrets - imagine been an almost prisoner just because of velvet!
And it’s during this period where the associations with the English Royal family and velvet seem to begin- I mean you simply cannot seem to watch an episode of ‘The Tudors’ visit a medieval castle or palace or watch a costume drama without spotting some element of velvet- it was used for clothing, wall coverings, draperies, religious vestments, crowns and cloaks often with the addition of genuine gold thread, valuable trimmings and precious jewels to add extra pizzaz and remind you of their vast wealth and status. Just incase you’d momentarily forgotten.
It’s rather fitting that some of our own most popular velvets are from a collaborative collection produced with the National Portrait Gallery where we explored, were inspired by and deconstructed the galleries portraits of Tudor Royals Henry VIII, Elizabeth I and Mary Tudor, who themselves were often shrouded in velvet and surrounded themselves with this most beautiful of fabrics. We like to think that the devilish flame haired rogue that was Henry, would have approved (rather than passing on the death sentence)
Our next Blackpop historical connection (or tenuous link, depending on your point of view! ) is that our new ‘Hampton Gold’ and ‘Hampton Hex’ designs were inspired by the stunning ceiling of the ‘Queen’s bed chamber’ at Hampton Court Palace to which we had access to the original architectural drawings and a design sketch for.
Now if you explore Hampton Court Palace, within William III’s state apartment is a wooden commode with..... a velvet toilet seat (red, if you’re wondering) Yep, a monogrammed, red velvet toilet seat! Perhaps the ultimate and most royal of velvet indulgences? Apparently, Henry VII had a black velvet one with ribbons on and you have to wonder if that’s why the loo roll manufacturers keep insisting that their paper is as ‘soft as velvet’- maybe we all subconsciously yearn for a Royal velvet loo seat. Life and bathroom goals people!
During the Industrial Revolution, velvet production improved and so became more widely available, so that by the 1900’s, velvet was a staple of Upper and Middle class fashion and interiors, with evening gowns and suits cut from this beautiful fabric, whilst Edwardian furniture such as the essential chaise longues, were often covered in this decadent fabric and the roaring 1920’s still saw velvet as a glamorous addition to both home and wardrobe.
By the 1970’s velvet was a firm favourite amongst celebrity culture ( well, who wouldn’t want a Yves Saint Laurent velvet blazer?) and had also taken on a rock and roll and boho vibe too.
Phew, that’s the end of your historical velvet lesson ( we’re skipping over the crushed velvet fad of the 1980’s) and let’s remember that in addition to still expressing an element of luxury, casual grandeur and opulence to any room scheme it also adds a feeling of warmth, texture, interest and of course, the depth and vibrancy of colour and pattern found only in a good quality velvet is unlike that of any other fabric, definitely on the list of ‘ things that make you go hmmm’.
So you no longer need to be privileged or Royal to enjoy genuine velvet, so you can be justified in just taking a little peak at our collection of lustrous fabrics, however, only a monarch should really, wear it on a crown or topped with ermine and jewels as a cloak and even then, only on special occasions - unless it’s just that kind of day....
Henry V111 Tudor portrait painting - courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery
We supply British velvets, digitally printed in the UK with a 45,000 rub test, a width of 137cm and available to order by the metre.
Our super soft fabric is suitable for a wide range of upholstery and drapery needs.
We are always happy to discuss your bespoke velvets or fabric requests and you will find our full velvet fabric and cushion range on our website. We also regularly add antique, new and vintage furniture upholstered in our velvet fabric and ready to go, on our online store and in our new Derbyshire showroom.