Pure silk is synonymous with luxury, the kind that graces special occasions and memorable moments, and more than any other material, it makes one feel like royalty. Dupion is a 100% silk fabric that has been made for hundreds of years. The main manufacturing centers were traditionally in the east, in Thailand, China, Japan and India. It is also famous by the names of Douppioni or Dupioni.
Silk worms create silk by secreting two rows of liquid from their glands. On coming in contact with air these solidify into fibers and the caterpillars wrap them around themselves and form the cocoon. Two caterpillars in the same pod wrapping their yarns around each other results in a double strand which gives the final fabric an uneven appearance. This textured fabric is known as Dupion silk.
Dupion silk has a natural shine and displays colors in a most vibrant manner. The fabric has a stubbled surface that comes from its natural fibers and adds to its dramatic textured feel. Dupion silk is a crisp fabric that is made by using a fine thread in the warp and a rough uneven thread in the weft. This uneven thread is sourced from two or more entangled cocoons. The mix creates a tightly woven fabric with slubs or uneven spots on an otherwise highly radiant surface. This lustrous fabric has a naturally buffed look that makes every garment look classy.
The yarn made from this silk is very receptive to dyeing; hence a wide palette is available for designers. Dupion silk boasts of a gorgeous two-tone effect that differs in visual perception depending on the shades combined. It is done by pairing two different shades and weaving them through the warp and the weft. The end result is a beautiful eye-catching contrast that reflects a different color when seen from different angles and in different lighting, lending the fabric an iridescent look.
Dupion silk has been a popular choice for special occasions for many years. The structure of the fabric is taut, with no stretch. This very characteristic allows for detailed designing elements to be incorporated for elaborate outfits. Dupion silk works particularly well for attire like corsets, jackets and other fitted garments. They support embellishments like embroidery, lace and pearl work that adds to its already rich appearance making it the perfect choice for a bride or groom. Dupion silk is a breathable fabric, which means it allows a certain amount of heat to leave the body, a trait very desirable when the outfit is heavily embellished.
Dupion is also a favorite with interior designers, as it gives an instant and unmatchable regality to the area when draped over furnishings. Dupion can be woven into plaids, stripes, floral or other intrinsic patterns and embellished with embroidery as well. The inherent qualities of Dupion silk make it suitable for dyeing in any shade; it is easy to sew and is a highly wrinkle-resistant fabric. Besides, the material is totally reversible. The material is used in drapes or bed covers to create regal-looking rooms. More subtle inclusions are done in lamp shades and other accessories like cushions, throws etc. Dupion is relatively low-priced compared to other varieties of silk, but thanks to all of its fantastic qualities, it is a favorite amongst many designers.
In India, Varanasi is one of the major producers of Dupion. Weavers from the city and the nearby villages, mainly from the Ansari community, have been producing the fabric for generations. Handloom Dupion silk is very trendy today. There is a handloom variety that comes from Banaras and one that is made in Bhagalpur. Although power looms have taken over the mass production of the silk to meet its high demands all over the world, there are still plenty of silk workers employing the age-old techniques that make their product stand out like a jewel.