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A gorgeous finished silk, often iridescent...always perfect.  

Taffeta is a pure silk fabric that has a polished or glassy look.  It is more crisp than dupioni and sometimes considered more formal.  The primary difference between taffeta and dupioni is that taffeta is a finished (as opposed to a 'raw') silk.  

Available in a myriad range of colors and patterns, taffeta is considered the best in silk for drapery, upholstery and dressmaking.

Silk Taffeta


Taffeta originated in Persia. The name, derived from Persian, means "twisted woven." Taffeta is in the same class and demand as satin made of silk. The cloth is made of a plain or tabby weave, and the textures vary considerably. The fabric is smooth, tightly woven with fine warp yarn and has a plain weave. Silk Taffeta has a crisp drape and comes in various weights. 

The History of Silk

China was the first country to develop silk over 4,000 years ago...that's over 2600 years before Christ!  Originally it was only worn by Chinese Emperors.  The emperors tried to keep the knowledge of sericulture (the raising of silkworms) a secret in order to maintain a monopoly on the manufacture of silk fabric.  Eventually silk began to spread throughout Asia.  The demand was so high that it became one of the staples of international trade for China.

Old Testament references indicate that silk was known in biblical times in western Asia.  Again in the New Testament, mention is made of silk in relation to the fall of Babylon.  The Chinese are credited for developing trade with the West, beginning around the 2nd century BC.  The ancient Persian courts used Chinese silks that they deconstructed and rewove into their own designs, making them uniquely Persian.   When the king of Persia, Darius III, surrendered to Alexander the Great, he was clothed in such silken splendor that Alexander was completely overshadowed and demanded as spoils the equivalent of $7 million in silk. Caravans carried silk on camelback from deep inside Asia all the way to Damascus, Syria, the marketplace at which East and West met.


The Chinese did pretty well protecting one of history's most guarded secret -- no one found out for thirty centuries!  But a good secret is hard to keep and by 300 AD, India had its hands on the recipe and wasted no time in beginning their own production.

Eventually silk made its way to the Middle East, Europe and North Africa.  The trade routes it followed became known as The Silk Road.

By 550 AD, Rome was in on the action via the Byzantine Empire.  As legend tells, monks working for Emperor Justinian smuggled silkworm eggs to Constantinople in hollow canes.  Again in Rome, efforts were made to keep the process of weaving not only a secret, but an imperial monopoly.  Julius Caesar restricted silk to his exclusive use and to use for the purple Roman stripes on the togas of officials he favored.  The best looms and weavers could only be found in the Palace complex in Constantinople and the silk they made was used only for imperial robes or in diplomacy as gifts to foreign dignitaries.  Whatever was left over was sold at exorbitant prices, keeping silk only in the hands of the upper class.

By the 13th century, Italy was a major player, thanks in large part to Venetian merchants who not only sold silk, but encouraged silk growers to settle in Italy.  The wealthy city of Florence was built on proceeds from textiles, both wool and silk. 

When France saw what was happening, Francis I invited Italian silkmakers to come to France and create a silk industry there, especially in Lyon.  James I did the same thing in England, even going so far as to purchase 100,000 mulberry trees in an effort to harvest silk worms.  But he bought the wrong kind and his trees were only ever used for shade.

Due to the high demand and improved looms, achieved primarily by India, silk is now available the world over.  However it is far from common.  Silk production accounts for only 0.2% of the world's total textile production. 


Here at HYENA, we're happy to offer you the highest quality and most unusual silks at about half of retail...all the time.  Our collection houses over 300 patterns and the largest online collections of silk in the world.


The Characteristics of Silk

Silk is widely considered to be:

  • The most luxurious fabric

  • The most comfortable fabric

  • The most absorbent fabric (equal to wool)

  • The best fabric for drape

  • The best fabric for color

  • Capable of the greatest luster

  • Having the finest "hand"

  • The strongest natural fabric (a steel filament of the same diameter as silk will break before a filament of silk.)

  • Environmentally friendly

  • Soil resistant

  • Moth & mildew resistant

  • Cool in summer

  • Warm in winter

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