If there are two words in the world of decorating more diametrically opposed than “performance” and “silk,” I challenge you to come up with them. In fact, silk is so fraught with issues – lack of abrasion resistance, brittleness/deterioration when exposed to sunlight, vulnerability to ‘water stains,’ and extremely difficult to clean, just to name a few – that I can count on one or two fingers the number of times I have used a silk fabric (and one of those is in my own home – one measly throw pillow in a low-traffic area…).
Well, it’s possible that’s all about to change. Schumacher just debuted its High Performance Silk Velvet.
It’s like finding out you can throw your Faberge eggs in the dishwasher when they need to be cleaned. Mind. Blown. Somehow (and I still don’t know exactly how…), they figured out a way to treat a silk/cotton blend velvet with a treatment that renders it more or less on par with Nanotex and Crypton fabrics for stain and liquid repellency. High Performance Silk Velvet is also rated to withstand 20K Martindale rubs, which classifies it as a heavy duty fabric, suitable for upholstery.
I should note that the finish or treatment is not disclosed or branded by Schumacher as of yet, so it is not Nanotex or Crypton, nor do I know if this is a surface coating that can wear off over time, or if it is sealed in at the fiber level to work forever and ever. This is really hot off the presses and I’m still getting all the facts together. It’s just so unexpected and just plain amazing, I knew I had to share it with you today.
The Schumacher showroom in the Boston Design Center already has a sofa upholstered in High Performance Silk Velvet.
I sat in it. I felt kind of naughty. I had to reassure myself that it was ok!
Whatever voodoo witchcraft magic wizardry Schumacher has invoked to make this fabric, I have to say the look and hand is really very luxurious. And the edited focus on jewel-toned and neutral colorways is spot-on. But…there are still limitations we need to be aware of here.
I do think the pile/nap of the velvet is a bit more flat than other silk velvets (I have touched them in my fabric-sourcing fantasies). And, like other velvets, it will be susceptible to crushing – which means the pile can get flattened over time in certain places and create a visible imprint or mark (such as where someone always sits in a chair). Don’t forget, too, that small problem of the sun. I am honestly not sure if the 49% cotton fiber content is sufficient to stem the sun-induced deterioration, but for the love of God, don’t put it near a window of any kind. And better yet, get UV film for your windows and protect all your furniture, floors, rugs, etc.
One last note – it’s still silk, y’all, and it is priced accordingly. This is certainly not for everyone, or for every use. But I LOVE to see companies like Schumacher innovating in this space, and coming up with products that deliver so beautifully on both style and performance. And I’m already thinking about what I can upholster with this stuff…I’ve got some ideas percolating!
Now, please excuse me while I go rub my luscious memo samples all over my face.
P.S. I’m also a big fan of Schumacher’s Piet Performance Linen (which is a Nanotex fabric), High Performance Silk Velvet’s more casual cousin.