Velvet is lavish, luscious and loved at this time of year. Catwalks are crushed with it and our homes welcome it to keeps winter draughts at bay and to upholstery deep-seated sofas.
Aesthetically, velvet catches the light to give a rhythm to the surface and a sort of Chiaroscuro effect. The new Tulip velvet by Neisha Crosland has even greater depth due to the hand-blocked nature of the printing. It was also Neisha’s first ever textile print and makes a magical story
‘At school, I took an old sheet and dyed it pistachio green, cut out some stencils from cartridge paper, and bought some fabric paints. I made a silk screen, and printed my first textile not knowing that I would still be at it 39 years later - the design I printed was a Fritillaria TULIP, but as the checks seemed too tricky to cut out of a stencil I just decorated the flower head with stripes instead.
Twenty years later, on seeing the design that my mother by now had proudly framed, a friend of mine insisted on taking it to India to have some woodblocks cut of the design. She came back some months later with a few meters printed on cotton muslin.
Last year, when visiting my studio, Matt Gomez of Turnell & Gigon spotted this length folded up in a corner, and was so inspired by it and its story, that he took the original blocks off to Thailand to print the design on gold and silver velvet’
Perhaps something more than transient trends is afoot in the velvet revolution, because in uncertain times traditional textiles and cosy upholstery hark back to a bygone era, evoking comfort and warmth.
Country Life recently wrote about Victorian upholstered furniture, a la Uncle Monty’s drawing room in Withnail & I, examining the stylistically legacy of the lavish comfort of Howard-style sofas and chairs. This may be a chair too far for most of us, but velvet can look refreshingly modern even if touched by a little English eccentricity.
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