I had something of a surprise last week. An unexpected visit to my Spitalfields studio from one of the members of the Japanese Imperial Household. It also gave me the chance to show the latest treasures in stock. A selection of superb silk and wool tweeds prepared specially for me by Nicolas Guibauld at Holland & Sherry.
Silk is a natural protein fibre spun by the silkworm as it makes its cocoon…which is perhaps why moths aren’t particularly interested in it! In cross section, the fibres have a triangular shape with rounded corners which allow light to reflect at different angles, giving the fabric a natural lustre. Its smoothness and softness of texture belies the fact that it is one of the strongest natural fibres, and it also takes dye extremely well. I believe also that violinists wrap their instruments in silk cloths in order to equalise in part any changes in humidity.
Holland & Sherry’s Silk Essence range is woven in England with Super 100’s wool. When silk is included in the weave the natural qualities of the wool are enhanced immeasurably giving the fabric a unique drape and luxurious feel. What is more, when silk is woven into patterns – dogtooth, herringbone, birdseye or glenchecks – it becomes almost irridescent.
They also stock a range of cashique fabrics; a very special treat indeed. It’s made from a blend of the highest quality mulberry silk with cashmere and super-fine wool. Definitely for the connoisseur.
It is not only the properties of the fabric itself however that lend to it its mystique. It first began to appear in the West almost 2000 years ago and the trade routes that were established for the transport of silk and other commodities from China, the Silk Road, gave rise to a rich reservoir of stories and legends.
Everyone seems to have a ‘silk’ story. What is yours?