Silk Lamé -- Handwoven, Machine-woven and Some Historical Examples

One of the fabrics that has been utilized in vestment making these past few centuries, particularly those of a more solemn and precious nature, is silk lamé. Lamé is fabric that is interwoven with metallic fibres -- generally gold or silver -- that gives the fabric a luminescent quality and richness.

Handwoven green silk lamé 
In our own time, lamé comes in either the traditional handwoven or contemporary machine-woven varieties -- not to mention true metallic or simulated gold versions. Now if you're wondering whether or not there is a qualitative difference between them, there is. Let's take a quick look, comparing two samples of green silk lamé (both provided to LAJ by  Gammarelli's in Rome):

Top: Handwoven lamé     Bottom: Machine-woven
Left: Handwoven lamé     Right: Machine-woven

As you will no doubt see, the machine woven is tighter and more uniform but it also has the effect of making it rather more flat by comparison to the handwoven; the handwoven, by contrast, has more warmth, depth and character to it. That said, both are nice and, as with anything of this sort, if you want the extra character of the traditional, handwoven material, you will have to be prepared to pay for what goes into it. But if you are so willing it is my hope that by showing you this comparison you will see that there is in fact a noticeable and qualitative difference between the two that would make such an investment worthwhile. (I would add the comment that of the machine-woven lame's, the best is that which comes in Roman purple.)

This aspect aside, let's take a look at some historical examples of silk lamé vestments.

Handwoven red silk lamé
Handwoven white silk lamé
Handwoven gold silk lamé

Handwoven black silk lamé
Handwoven purple/violet silk lamé
Handwoven rose silk lamé
Now if you'd like to compare these with their machine-woven counterpart, here is an example below. As already noted, the machine woven lamé has a uniformity and tightness that makes it appear more 'flat' by comparison to its traditional counterpart, however they can still come off very well.

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