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Brocade Arcade

It’s not just for grannies in southern florida anymore! When you hear the term “brocade,” you should no longer thing of gaudy, gauche, flowered couches adorned in plastic covers.

Marchesa Collection - Cassarro Fabrics

Francine Collection - Cassarro Fabrics

Brocade fabric or brocade patterns are known for being “rich” and “opulent” because of how labor intensive and time consuming (and thus expensive) the creation of styles can be.  These decorative shuttle-woven fabrics are usually made using colored silks ($$) and with or without  metallic (often gold and silver) threads. True brocade must be made and largely woven on a Jacquard loom. This allows the textile to take on the look of a complex tapestry or large woven quilt. Although many brocade fabrics look like tapestries and are advertised by fashion magazines, brands, and home decor catalogues as such, an actual brocade piece is hard to come by in this machine age.

Fall 2012 Louis Vuitton

Marni 2012, Balmain 2012, Marchesa 2012 – aka the Brocade Brigade – found here.

Balmain Fall 2012

Deacon’s Autumn/Winter 2012 collection brought Victorian opulence with a modern twist while contrasting androgyny with all things feminine, here.

Dark, deep, secretive and sophisticated. Via.

Brocade is often associated with Italy and the high Renaissance, but the success of the fabric is also a testament to the expansion of the silk road. Cultures in China, India, Persia and the Far East would copy, replicate, or repeat Italian motifs throughout their manufacture. Italy would then “steal” from China, no one is really so sure as to when and how the techniques were created. To this day, in Guatemala, brocade is the most popular technique used to decorate fabric woven by Maya weavers on backstrap looms. Some societies used to only reserve the style for special occasions. However, brocade’s steeply fell out of fashion after the Victorian Era and hardly existed in the 1900′s. Perhaps the textile would make an appearance in a purse here or a brooch there, but overall it was not en vogue. In recent years, such as at in 2005 or Fall 2012 , high-end designers have toyed with brocade fabrics even for everyday wear.

Brocade Damask Turquoise /  Custom Option: Isolate  © DLM Studio

Kirsten Dunst as Marie Antionette falls apart, but looks good doing so. Image found here, original source unknown.

Brocade is most often associated with upholsteries, draperies and evening-wear, but can also be used in unconventional ways. By marrying obscure  and slow weft techniques with an assembly line society, reliant on mass production, a sharp contrast can be drawn.

Via.

DRYDEN VELVET by OSBORNE & LITTLE

Like living inside of a cream colored Faberge egg, here. 

Sea Cliff Home by Niche Interiors

Beauty escorted by apes and monkeys as pages, from Beauty and the Beast, 1896, found in the New York Public Library.

Neon Brocade via Houzz. 

Wes Gordon 2012 ONYX AND GOLD LEOPARD BROCADE
AND BLACK WOOL COCOON DRESS & FLARED LEOPARD-BROCADE PANTS

Florentine Damask and a bit of Brocade upholstery? Via the Royal Design Studio.

East Meets West via DecorPad.

This clutch bag by ASOS Collection has been crafted from a brocade fabric with metallic detailing. The brocade Flatforms, Flats, and Chelsea ankle boots are driving me wild – they are clever and quirky.  Brocade is not just for the rich anymore!

Here’s a bit of a nomenclature lesson. All weaves consist of warp threads which run down the length of fabric and weft threads (also known as woof threads) which pass over and under the warp threads. Damask and brocade are related patterned fabrics in that they both exploit the play of light falling on the weave structure. Damask and brocade are both made on a jacquard loom. Brocade is usually made with richer colors, several threads, and is not reversible – that is, the fabric, when turned over, will create a photo-negative like effect. When in doubt, pull a Scarlett O’Hara curtain dress!