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Bridal Silk & Satin Glossary
Style, cut, texture, drape and season are all-important factors that determine the best fabric for wedding dresses, evening dresses, party dresses and dresses for the mother of the bride or groom.
Some fabrics cling to the body, while others stand away. Some are cherished for their crispness, others for being light-as-air.
The same style dress can look and feel quite different in a variety of fabrics since each material is designed to produce a distinct effect.
This artful marriage of style to fabric by a master couturier makes your gown a reflection of your unique essence and creates a memorable entrance and a dramatic exit at any elegant affair.
Silk is the queen of all bridal fabrics, prized for its luster, drape and hand. Silk fiber is made from silkworm cocoons and woven to create various fabrics distinguished by a characteristic look and feel.
Wedding dresses are styled in a variety of fabric finishes that are woven of 100% silk or silk blended with rayon. These include silk satin, duchess satin, charmeuse, shantung and mikado. Then there are the gauzier, textured silks like chiffon, tulle and organza.
Invented during World War II when silk was rationed for use in parachutes, rayon is made from plant fibers. It often shows up in blends of various bridal fabrics.
Polyester, acetate and nylon are affordable man-made wonders that are virtually unavoidable in contemporary fashion.
Bridal manufacturers weave these fibers into matte or glossy finishes that replicate the luster, drape and hand of silk.
The quality of the finish distinguishes the costly from the cheap. The best synthetic fabrics look and feel like the real deal. The least expensive look cheesy and feel cheap.
Don't turn up your nose at synthetics. They wear beautifully, wrinkle less and easily hold their own against Queen Silk when they come from a quality design house. The best designers invest in the best grade of synthetic fabrics.
The finish is what cloth feels and looks like after it's woven. Most bridal fabrics - both natural and synthetic - can be woven into a wide variety of finishes. These are most the common:
A lightweight version of satin with a softer and more clingy look.Charmeuse can be made with silk or rayon and has less body than traditional silk finishes.
A transparent, lightweight fabric finish, chiffon may be made from just about any fabric. It is often layered and has an unusual luster.
Crepe (KRAPE) A light, soft and thin fabric with a textured hand, crepe is a traditional fabric for a mother of the bride ensemble or a polished destination wedding dress.
Duchess (DUH- chess) Satin
Also referred to as silk-faced satin, this finish weighs less than traditional silk finishes and is usually less expensive. Most Duchess satins are a blend of silk and rayon woven into a satin finish.
A finish similar to shantung, but with thicker, coarser fibers and a slight sheen. Dupioni can be woven silk or synthetic fibers.
A structured, ribbed finish like grosgrain ribbon; usually quite substantial, faille is another look for evening dresses, party dresses and mother of the bride ensembles.
A sheer, lightweight fabric often made of polyester or silk with a crepe surface.
A very elastic knit fabric; the face has lengthwise ribs and the underside has crosswise ribs. The drape is long and clingy.
A heavy silk taffeta with a subtle, wavy design.
Net, English net, illusion or tulle (TOOL)
A tight mesh-like fabric most often woven from synthetic fibers. Varying weaves can increase or decrease the weight of this finish.
A crisp, transparent fabric finish made from cotton.
Crisp and sheer like chiffon, with a stiffer texture similar in effect to tulle, but more flowing; popular for skirts, sleeves, backs, and overlays.
Peau de soie (po-da-swa), "skin of silk"
A heavy, smooth satin with very fine ribbing. This finish is actually somewhat dull in sheen compared with traditional silk finishes.
A tightly woven effect that gives fabric a beautiful sheen on one side. Can be matte, delustered or highly lustrous, i.e., reflective.
Typically woven in polyester fiber, satin is the most common fabric finish for wedding dresses.
The quality of the thread and the detail of the weave make the difference between the best and the rest; an expensive satin weave looks and feels like silk satin.
Originally known as raw (or natural) silk, this finish has a rough, nubby appearance with slubs. Once associated exclusively with silk fabrics, shantung is now seen as a finish for synthetic fabrics as well.
Silk Gazar (Silk Ga-ZAR)
A four-ply silk organza favored by couturiers for its light weight and translucency.
Silk Mikado (Silk Mik-AH-do)
A brand of blended silk, usually heavier than 100% silk to give a dress a crisp, lady-like body.
Mikado satin is a polyester weave that looks and feels like the real deal.
A soft, thick fabric with a felted face and plain underside
Fabric body, hand and drape are the tools of the couturier. Each has a distinctive flair.
All are designed to ensure that you look and feel like the princess in a fairytale and that your true-life Prince Charming always remembers the way you took away his breath the moment you entered the room. Isn't this what's it all about?
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