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Monday, June 2, 2014

Can You Use Vicuña In A Regular Jacket? The Answer Is Yes And Dormeuil Has A Dedicated Range

In one of my all time favourite films, Sunset Boulevard , Joe Gillis the wannabe screenwriter turned hand-bag to Norma Desmond, is being pampered like a pooch in a store in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles. As part of the process he is taken to a menswear store where he eventually secures himself a vicuña overcoat. Symbolically this overcoat becomes the hallmark symbol of the new life he leads, one of pampered luxury and an abstracted reality, to the point that when he goes to a party to see his old friends that he's been shut off from since being enveloped by the world of Norma Desmond, it is his vicuña overcoat that draws a lot of attention to him and separates him from the struggling artists that used to be his fraternity.

Norma Desmond and screenwriter turned hand-bag Joe Gillis in the wonderful classic film Sunset Boulevard. Joe wears a vicuña overcoat. 

Traditionally most people know vicuña as an overcoat wool only. It is only recently, say in the last 5 years, that we have started to see vicuña poking it's way into suiting wool. Subsequently Dormeuil has decided to invest in a full range of 100% vicuña suiting wools.

Last week I had the pleasure of conversing with Dormeuil's man Down Under, Monsieur Laurent Lemoine, who was very excited about this particular new range of wool. Since 1842 when the original Dormeuil brothers put together their first wool bunches the house of Dormeuil has continually sought out rare and precious wool fibres to weave as either a single wool cloth or else as part of their blending programmes. You may recall that two years ago we referenced their use of Qiviuk wool which came from fine wool bison located in the far reaches of Northern Canada. The latest search for Dormeuil has been to use vicuña to make 100% jacketing wool. The vicuña is a relative of the llama, native to South America and being found in the highlands of the Andes. Each animal takes over ten minutes to sheer, is shorn only once every two years and each shearing yields only 300 grams of wool. What is more, the wool is so fine that the fibre strands are 12 microns. To make that relative to what you normally see in wool, recall that in the article that we wrote in 2011 we published a table that showed super 100's moving through to 200's . Super 100's are roughly 18.5 microns, super 200's were 13.5 microns. So 12 microns hits a new stratosphere.

The reason that vicuña is so lucrative is not just the fineness of the wool itself. The slender and tawny animal is protected, it is wild and it yields a very small amount of wool. The wool it does yield gives off a lustre and brightness that is so rich and so aesthetically pleasing, whilst at the same time being so light weight and so warm, that some refer to it as 'the fibre of the Gods" and by some others as "Andean gold".

Personally, I have never had any contact with vicuña but the more I read about it the more I want to know what it might have been like to be a struggling down-at-heel screenwriter like Joe Gillis and to be thrown into the rich vicuña world of Norma Desmond. It must have been very alluring, initially at least. But what is even more exciting, especially for those of us in more temperate climates, now you can enjoy the wool as a 330 g / 11 oz jacket rather than as an overcoat which I rarely get to wear. It is available in a palette of ten colours ranging from earthy ochres to classic navys.

For more information on Dormeuil's range: click here

Vicuña, a relative of the llama, a native and wild animal of the highlands of the Andes in South America. The wool from these animals is often called "the fibre of the God's"

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