Velvet usually comes out of mothballs about once a year: the holidays. Other than that, the fabric that has always stood for wealth and luxury tends to spend more time on settees and chaises than on warm bodies. That is, until now.
Velvet's not so underground anymore thanks to European and American designers who used bolt after bolt of it in the fall 2009 collections. And each one has manipulated the short dense pile into much more than just eveningwear.
Ralph Lauren, Fendi and Bottega Veneta created velvet rose-colored cap-sleeved frocks, neutral strapless cocktail dresses and burnt-orange slouchy day dresses, respectively. Chloé, Sonia Rykiel and Ralph Lauren went for velvet harem pants, mostly in dark green and black. Gianfranco Ferré, Lanvin and Elie Saab blew fashion watchers away with their long black velvet gowns with structured cap sleeves à la the '40s.
Aquilano.Rimondi-a new talented design duo from Italy-draped, cut and sewed bright red velvet into a belted cocoon coat-dress that hits just above the knee. Superb.
But if two designers can turn velvet into a full-blown trend of the season, it's Miuccia Prada and Marc Jacobs. Interestingly enough, both fashion forces took some yellow with their velvet.
Jacobs ran with the '80s-the decade he first hit the fashion scene- with neon yellow cocktail dresses like the one pictured above. Another yellow cocktail dress wraps its wearer like a mummy in wide-bands of velvet. (Fergie took this look out for a spin on the red carpet recently, only in electric blue.)
Prada reached back to a darker mood in the '40s and came up with a more toxic shade of yellow. This disconcerting yellow hovering somewhere between poison and putrid was made into a deep V-neck and stitched to a tweed skirt. Burned-out velvet made appearances on double-breasted coats and V-neck dresses (sometimes awkwardly topped with fur).