Hunched across a rectangular frame, threading and stringing, punching and entwining in reversing and paralleling directions, only to replicate and repeat indefinitely. This was the process for Joseph Marie Charles in 18th century Lyons, France. Later reputedly nicknamed Jacquard, his penchant for fabricating unsurprisingly stemmed from an established family of weavers. Although far from respected or esteemed thanks to a strong distain from silk merchants who believed their livelihood threatened by his entrepreneurial invention, little did he know his innovation would transpire long after the first simple weave into stunning brocades and damasks, let alone maintain popularity for decades to come. Nor could he have possibly imagined how graceful his modest design would appear on the lingering figure of Lindsay Wixson for D&G this season, a trend once again regaining popularity for a fabric so illustrious, no further embellishment is required.
Harking back to history and moving forward in the cyclical disposition of fashion can make for quite the demanding exercise. But like patting your head and rubbing your stomach simultaneously, it’s necessary to gage exactly how important the two come together to welcome this intriguing trend of the emerging autumn/winter season. The message is clear: ditsy prints are out. Opulent, rich colours and textures take the main stage. After adjusting to neon’s and head-to-toe, often contrasting prints, we’ve acquired somewhat of a kaleidoscope eye for colour.
“I just couldn’t resist the beauty of brocade fabric. I had Versailles and the Hermitage in mind and I started with a jacket. I’d wear it with classic monotone Prada pumps lifted on a 5in heel, no platform, with my hair in a low ponytail, with bright red lips and absolutely not with a sparkly clutch with rhinestones,” says newcomer Vika Gazinskaya. That’s the beauty of jacquard; it does all the work, no extra embellishment is needed to achieve its aim; indulgence. Perhaps that is what appealed so vehemently to its devotees through the decades, and to consider the irony that such an advanced concept almost failed at a time when Enlightenment culminated in France, when a brighter day was so desperately sought after, a man of forward thinking could be so disparaged.
Sixty years later Marie Antoinette would gorge insatiably and dressed, or rather was dressed, in the finest heaviest brocades imaginable, a glamorous notion for a country so poor its people scrambled to eat rats. Yes, those jacquards have a lot to answer for. If only he knew what he started.