Lame Fabric: Properties, Applications and Care

Lamé is a fabric made with metallic fibers. These fibers could either be entirely metal, a mix of metal and cloth, or metal-plated. Gold is the most commonly used metal on old lamé clothes, earning it the nickname “cloth of gold.” As a result, lamé was reserved for royalty; however, people can now make it through cheaper methods.

History of Lamé Fabric

Purple Lame Fabric

Evidence of lamé fabric is present in cuneiform texts dating back to the ancient Assyrian Empire. Roman headstones and some Bible passages mention gold clothing. Some scholars also think that Greek mythology’s “Golden Fleece” might be made of lamé fabric.

All contexts of recorded ancient history show that lamé clothing was reserved for rulers and highly-placed clergy. Its lustrous golden or silver design and high price made it an exclusive fabric type. Many Eurasian nations have some record of golden garments worn by the wealthy.

Lamé fabric’s popularity declined in the Middle Ages and faced a short revival in the 1920s. However, its most recent boom came in the 1960s as Hollywood stars and musicians donned the glamorous look on the silver screen. 

Nowadays, technological advancement makes it possible to create imitation lamé fabric. These lookalikes were made of cheaper materials like aluminum and copper, making the material less exclusive.

How is Lamé Fabric Made?

We will examine the ancient and modern methods of producing lamé fabric. The ancient method began in what is now Ancient Iraq/Southern Turkey; Chinese manufacturers are the primary users of the modern method.

Ancient Method

The ancient method of producing lamé fabric involved beating gold into long, thin strips and winding it around a silk core. Manufacturers then weave the lamé yarn into fabric sheets.

Gold is notoriously soft and malleable; some manufacturers mixed it with other metals to improve the lamé fabric’s durability. However, this mixture causes the lamé garment to tarnish and lose its beauty as it ages.

Modern Method

Modern lamé fabric production begins with manufacturers coating lamé thread with clear plastic. This coating prevents tarnishing and improves the fabric’s strength, and it works well on gold, silver, or platinum lamé. However, some manufacturers still use the ancient method of alloying gold, which can cause it to tarnish with time.

After stretching and coating the yarn, manufacturers weave it into fabric sheets, ready to be sewn as desired.

Uses of Lamé Fabric

Lamé fabric is not so popular anymore; however, it still has some practical uses.n

1. Apparels

Manufacturers commonly use lamé fabric to make fashion apparel and accessories. While you won’t find many everyday garments made from lamé fabric, fashion designers regularly produce lamé fabric collections. Dresses, evening wear, men’s neckties, shoes, and handbags are some common lamé fabric products.

2. Theater and Cosplay

Lamé fabric is very popular in theater, as costumiers use it to portray ancient royalty. Also, its eye-catching appearance can help convey a message within the story. Finally, cosplayers who want to convey the outlandish design of characters in comic books and movies use lamé fabric to good effect.

3. Curtains

Lamé fabric curtains and drapes are usually spectacular to look at. It can give an uplifting and royal look to any room you decide to use it in.

4. Fencing

Lamé fabric is popularly used in the sport of fencing. Its conductive qualities make it easy for judges to know when a fighter has received a hit to his body. Each hit to a fighter’s fencing suit or “lamé” is automatically registered on electronic devices.

Types of Lamé Fabric

Textile manufacturers have made different types of lamé fabric, including the following:

1. Tissue Lamé

Tissue lamé is so-called because of its very thin and light texture. Most tissue lamé materials feature lamé yarn mixed with mylar and are mostly made with synthetic materials.

2. Hologram Lamé

Manufacturers produce hologram lamé fabric by coating the lamé yarm, causing it to have a holographic effect. They can create this type of lamé fabric with genuine or imitation lamé.

3. Liquid Lamé

Liquid lamé has a watery look on the body, hence its name. This type of lamé has a flowing texture and hardly features real gold or silver.

4. Precious Metal Lamé

Precious metal lamé is the only actual “cloth of gold” and must be made with precious metal. Gold, silver, and platinum are the most common metals used to make this lamé fabric.

5. Imitation Lamé

Manufacturers produce imitation lamé by winding aluminum around synthetic textile fibers. This lamé fabric doesn’t have the same luster as precious metal lamé; it is thus cheaper.

How to Care for Lamé Fabric?

Silver Lame Fabric

Lamé fabric is an unconventional fabric type; therefore, caring for it can be a bit tricky. Below, I show you some steps to care for yours.

  1. Only give your lamé fabric to experienced dry cleaners who know how to handle it. Do not clean it yourself or give it to inexperienced dry-cleaners as they might use the wrong chemicals, causing damage.
  2. Do not expose lamé cloth to direct heat, sunlight, or pressing iron to prevent the metallic fibers from melting. If you want to smoothen your rumpled lamé cloth, set the iron to the lowest temperature and press it from the garment’s wrong side.
  3. Do not machine-wash lamé fabric to prevent your garment from snagging and fraying. Do not brush your lamé fabric outfit against rough surfaces for the same reason.
  4. Store your lamé fabric in a dry place and keep silica gel packs around it to prevent moisture-induced tarnish.

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