A resurgence in the popularity of velvet raises some interesting points about fabric care, treatment, and composition.
Velvet is "a type of woven tufted fabric in which the cut threads are evenly distributed, with a short dense pile." Credit Wikipedia, for saying it more concisely than we can. Velvet must be carefully stored and also carefully handled. Unless you are specifically wanting a "crushed" velvet, which has been purposely treated so that they fibres are pressed in various directions, a velvet fabric can easily become creased, wrinkled or crushed in a way that does not make for a beautiful piece of upholstery.
Velvet is made from a variety of different fibers. Silk is traditional, but 100% silk velvet can be quite expensive. Other options include wool, mohair, cotton, and synthetics such as polyester or viscose. Because of the variety of materials, velvets may act differently depending on their makeup and the manufacturing process. Its best to treat them with great care - laid flat, not pressed or weighed down, and never piled up on top of one another.
Once a crush or crease appears, some techniques such as steaming, ironing, brushing and (as yet untried by us) icing can be used to revive the nap to its original state - or not! With these moody fabrics, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure; fabrics can be ruined by ill treatment before they even make it onto your tufted black Bergeres.
Yet even with the drawback of high sensitivity, they are still a wonderful choice for upholstery of any size. With new synthetics, prices can be affordable, and the variety of colors and styles is expansive. They are lush, dramatic, and timeless. And if you want the look of velvet - well, there is really no substitute.
For a handy introduction to caring for velvet furniture, stop over at apartmenttherapy.com to find out more.