There are few more exotic fabrics in this world than metallic jacquard. Lustrous, textured and highly ornate, it is generally worn at special occasions to make the kind of impact that no other fabric can.
The fabrics also have a signature stretch and breathe to them that is hard to replicate with other types of weave and has made them favourites.
Invented by Joseph Marie Jacquard in 1801, the Jacquard Loom is a mechanical loom designed to create the most ornate fabrics. A row of punched cars created one row of the design and a number of cards were strung together. Multiple machines were also used to reduce the required number of repeats. Modern computer-controlled looms have thousands of hooks and no punched cards, but threading a loom is still a huge process that can take days.
Commonly found jacquard fabrics are brocade, damask and tapestries. Thanks to the way it can be used to create heavyweight, textured and highly decorative patterns, the fabric is often used for high-end curtains.
Metallic jacquard has become a high-fashion item in the modern world, with silver and gold dresses proving a common occurrence on the red carpet at film premieres. Stainless steel, nickel and even copper bonded to nylon can be found in metallic jacquard and each gives its own distinctive shimmer. Creating these fibres at a thickness where they won’t break, but can still be woven, is a science in itself. Inevitably that adds to the price of the finished garments, marking them out as luxury items that signify wealth and class.
African variants of this advanced material tend to focus on raised floral metallic items on an ornate, heavily patterned background, to give a truly distinctive fabric that simply could not be made any other way.
The future of metallic jacquard is also looking bright, with fully ‘connected’ clothing set to occur in the near future, and metallic jacquard, so long a staple of upper class women at weddings, is set to become the must-have fashion accessory for tomorrow’s teenagers.