What is it about the French language that so prettifies commonplace notions? Devoré fabric refers to velvets that have been dissolved to create transparent patterns. In French, this literally means ‘devoured’. More prosaically, in English this fabric is sometimes referred to as ‘burnout’, which conjures up some rather horrid images.
The process was first created in Europe in the 1920s, and requires velvet that has a blend of cellulose fibre – viscose, cotton, rayon – and a protein-based fibre such as silk. A chemical gel is applied in the desired pattern to the fabric, and the cellulose is dissolved away to leave behind the silk, which appears as a semi-transparent gauze, and thereby creating the pattern.
Devoré was popular during the 1920s unsurprisingly, as it was then invented, and the dresses of the time were so much more inventive with the use of this innovative fabric than the ubiquitous scarves and fringed kimonos of today.