April 2017, By Nicole Langelier
Back in 1980-something when I was an awkward tween, I could imagine nothing more beautiful than a full skirted velvet dress. When my parents threw a big Christmas party for the toast of the neighbourhood, my mom took me to the mall and bought me my dream dress – It was long and burgundy and with puffy sleeves and a white lacy collar and when I twirled around in circles it opened up like an umbrella. I was so excited about it the next day at recess I did a little sketch of my perfect princess dress for my friends. I was going to be a vision in velvet.
As an adult I look back on my twirling tween self and am grateful to my mother for not keeping (or taking?) any pictures of me on that night. I also can’t help but take note of the velvet covered celebs that have been gracing the glossy pages of fashion mags, red carpets and cat walks as of late. As far as 80’s (and 90’s) revivals go, velvet scores a lot higher in my book than acid washed denim and mom jeans and as with many fashion trends it starts on the cat walk and works its way into the international furniture shows, design magazines and shops.
You would have to be blind not to notice the velvet adorned cushions, sofas, chairs etc. popping up in all of your favourite furniture retailers. From Great Dane to Jardan to Click On Furniture, West Elm and even K-Mart, there is a real velvet goldmine out there for the taking.
As with all trends, things come and go. It wasn’t long ago when the thought of a velvet sofa conjured up images of dusty Victorian curtains and Franco Cozzo lounge suites which was enough to make your average hipster’s hair stand on end. Well those days are gone as every hipster and their dog has a contemporary velvet sofa or chair these days, but my advice to you is the same as with any trend that comes as hard and fast as this velvet revival has (remember copper everything, marble everything, even Memphis everything?), take baby steps. A sofa is a commitment. It is often an investment and something you expect to have for years, even decades to come. If you are making a large investment in your velvet goldmine, make sure it is something you will love well into the future. If the answer is YES – your love of velvet is never ending, I would still recommend taking some small precautions. Don’t go nuts by being overly trendy – having an uber contemporary and brightly coloured velvet sofa is the equivalent to wearing a short dress and a low cut top together – one or the other are perfectly acceptable – but both at the same time is a big no-no! Minimize your risk by selecting a classic shape OR a classic colour if not both classic shape and colour.
When shopping for velvet furniture also consider the type of velvet you select– crushed velvet (think Courtney Love/ Hole 90’s grunge) is everywhere these days too, and unlike some velvets (and much like Courtney Love) it is less refined or resilient to the test of time then its older more sophisticated sister.
Don’t get me wrong, I am feeling this velveteen vibe. In my dream world I have a house large enough to have a room for every style I adore – lucky for me I am a stylist and I can indulge the trends that come and go, however when it comes to buying for keeps I would keep my velvet fix to some scatter cushions, a bench/ ottoman or a chair at most. You can have your cake and eat it too – but do yourself a favour and don’t over indulge – everything in moderation if you ask me.
Above is the fantastically far out ‘contemporary classic’ Sofa Boa from Edra, for those who prefer a bit of design anarchy.