For a long period of history, velvet was a possession of the rich and royal; a sumptuous, luxurious fabric that was draped across walls and adorned noble frocks. From Kashmir in the Middle-Ages to Belgium and Italy during the Renaissance, the art of velvet weaving has produced a singularly recognizable material, immediately conferring a sensation of nobility.
Velvet is commonly made from silk and cotton, and more recently has been fashioned from polyester as well. The material is extremely plush and soft, and is most popular in deep, rich colors. Velvet production results in piles on the face of the fabric, which can be dealt with in various manners to create different looks. The pile can be cut into shapes, creating cut velvet patterns that are popular with drapery and cushion covers, or it can be twisted while wet to form crushed velvet, which is popular in home furnishings as well as garments. The pile can also be directionally compressed, even in multiple directions on the same piece of cloth, to create interesting looks depending in the point of view.
Velvet is a particularly tricky material to maintain, as prolonged compression or folding can permanently affect the pile. Creases can be removed through the use of a velvet board or a steamer, and most velvet pieces are recommended to be dry cleaned, although some crushed velvet garments are machine washable.