Monday, November 28, 2011


Oh baby! Out you come! You’ve been hiding in that closet for waaay too long! Metallics are out and about, showing up any time of day or night in tops, bottoms, shoes, accessories, you name it! Aren’t you glad I let you hang around since… remind me, when was it padded shoulders like yours were in? But what’s old is new again, babe, so off that hanger with you! You and I are about to hit the town.

Yes, what’s old is new again, but isn’t that always the case? Here's 30s Hollywood vamp, Jean Harlow, in a gown of gold lamé that clings to every curve. The style could be hot off this season's runways, but the photo was taken in the 1930s when metallic lamé emerged as a designer favorite among evening wear fabrics.

Metallic fabric has a long and illustrious history, one that goes back a few thousand years. The Biblical book of Exodus records, “And they did beat the gold into thin plates, and cut [it into] wires, to work [it] in the blue, and in the purple, and in the scarlet, and in the fine linen, [with] cunning work.” The reference is to cloth of gold, the predecessor to synthetic metallic fabrics. Woven from silk yarn wrapped with a band or strip of genuine gold, this was the real thing. It is said Genghis Kahn (1162-1227) had in his possession "a piece of cloth beautiful beyond description, which he claimed was of pure gold, containing 130 shades of color."
Perhaps the great Mongolian emperor’s cloth was similar to the magnificent songket fabric of Indonesia and Malaysia shown here. It certainly existed in his time (see Such sumptuousness also brings to mind the Field of Cloth of Gold. It is the year 1520 - June 1520 to be precise - when Henry VIII of England and Francis I of France meet in a valley midway between Guisnes and Arde in France. This excerpt from Hall’s Chronicle describes the historic meeting. “Thursday 8 June being Corpus Christi day, Henry and the French king Francis I, met in a valley called the Golden Dale which lay midway between Guisnes and Arde where the French king had been staying. In this valley Henry pitched his marquee made of cloth of gold near where a banquet had been prepared. His Grace was accompanied by 500 horsemen and 3,000 foot soldiers, and the French King had a similar number of each.”

It’s now nearly 500 years since then and shine hasn't lost its allure. Heads still turn when the glimmer of gold or the sheen of silver makes an entrance.


Gianfranco Ferré - Fall Winter 2011/2012
Jean-Paul Gaultier - Paris Fall Winter 2011
Giorgio Armani - Fall Winter 2011/2012


  1. Don't we wish we look like the models with all the glitz on?

  2. I love all the metallics and glitter of the season. What a great idea for a blog. Thanks for inviting me over. Madeline

  3. Hi Other J.P. Lane:

    I've already stopped by your blog, which is so informative, but this post is quite timely. I was just looking at all my Christmas decorations and noticing that I really go in for shiny, glittery ones. Then I read your post. Apparently, I'm not the only one attracted to glitz. I guess life's to short not to sparkle!

    Janice P. (Lane) Palko

    If you ever get a chance, drop over to my blog at

  4. Great post Joan, the metallic looks great on you and it's one of my favorite trends. Thank you for sharing the history about it too. I loved looking through all the different photos.


  5. In the 90s my wardrobe contained a dress that made me look as though I had been wrapped in tin foil (I loved it) and I always remember the New Year when I wore some very glitzy, long, gold culottes! Maybe I should have kept the dress!

  6. Thanks for sharing, ladies! My "gunmetal" silver jacket is a Macy's worth-repeating circa 1980-something (: One of its neighbors in my closet is a lace blouse my husband bought be at Saks Fifth Avenue in 1976 or 1977. And there are quite a few pieces from the 90s keeping them company, along with an evening bag of my mother's from the 50s. My advice: never throw out a classic - they come and go, just like inches.