Saturday, November 10, 2012

Brocade, damask and jacquard ...

Brocade, damask and jacquard are often spoken of as if the terminology is interchangeable. Not so. Trust me, I've made my share of mistakes in reference to these fabric descriptions. But, I'm committed to getting it right from this moment forward because this year designers have again brought the beauty of these fabrics to the streets.

Let's talk first about Jacquard, because it is not a fabric. Jacquard refers to an attachment on a loom. So, the Jacquard weaving technique can be applied to a variety of fibers, and it is commonly used in the creation of brocade and damask fabrics. So far, so good.

Image of brocade dress by Fleurisse Leon.

Fabric experts say "The patterns in brocade are generally woven into the top of the fabric surface, creating a slightly raised design. Contrasting colors or metallic threads are usually used in order to make the pattern stand out even more from the background fabric."

Yes, please. I so want these pants! Image via Cap Cod Collegiate.

The French jacket below is a beautiful example of brocade. My friends at The Burlap Horse in Boerne have this obsession-worthy little number in their shop. It is a yummy silk brocade (most likely shuttle woven). Most brocade fabric is woven from silk, although, it is possible to find brocade constructed from a blend of fibers.

Brocade has a long history of being used for opulent silk and satin garments for royalty.


I would have to say the brocade jacket above (via designer Jane Troughton) looks a bit 'marmy' solo without any glitz shimmer, but drape it over a princess and it suddenly looks spectacular.

Damask is primarily different from brocade in the fact that its woven fabric pattern is reversible, while that of brocade is not. Similarly, shorter weft patterns in damask allow for more subtle effects in the fabric to be created as it plays off of shadow and light.

Designer Stella McCartney has used lustrous midnight blue damask to create a fashion buzz this season. Images above and below via Stella McCartney.


While it was once produced by hand, today damask is made using a Jacquard loom creating a subtle design in the same color as the background fabric using a contrasting, reversible weave.

You know when Marie Claire Fashion Director and Project Runway judge Nina Garcia (above, left) sports a McCartney-designed damask skirt on the streets of NYC, this is one haute fabric. The designer (above, right) strikes a red carpet pose.

Now, are you ready for the brocade, damask, jacquard IQ test?

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