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5 Sparkling Facts About Sequins

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Getty Images

It’s not an official requirement, but the Olympics wouldn't be the same without a bit of sparkle and pageantry. At the Opening Ceremony for the 2016 Rio Olympics, supermodel Gisele Bündchen set the tone in a dress covered in gold sequins, a garment that took four months to create.

Now a common material in the fashion and costuming industries and in high-visibility, performance-based events like parades and stage shows, there is actually more to the history of sequins than you might know.

1. THEY DATE BACK TO ANCIENT EGYPT.

In 1922, archaeologists discovered King Tutankhamun’s tomb and became the first people to enter it in more than 3000 years. The rooms of the tomb were filled with many signs of Tut’s wealth, including a solid gold coffin. Inside the coffin, the young mummified king’s body was found draped in lavish garments with what Smithsonian.com described as “gold sequinlike disks” sewn onto them.   

2. LEONARDO DA VINCI INVENTED A SEQUIN MACHINE.

A prolific inventor, Leonardo da Vinci had ideas for many machines that he never got around to building. One of his sketches from the early 1480s is of a device that would use pulleys and what appear to be weights to make gold sequins. Da Vinci’s reasons for designing the machine are still unknown, but the Smithsonian believes it may have been for fashion or something more “utilitarian.”

3. THEY WERE ONCE MADE FROM ANIMAL PARTS.

From the solid gold of Ancient Egypt to the metal coins that inspired the word "sequin" in the 13th century, sequins have gone through many phases to become the plastic disks we know today.

In the 1930s, sequins were made of gelatin from animal carcasses because the material could be rolled into sheets and punched into shapes. The problem was that gelatin melts when too much heat is applied, and it also dissolves in water. Wearing sequin dresses in the rain was a disaster, and they obviously couldn't be cleaned using washing machines, so the collagen style didn't survive the decade.

4. WORLD WAR II CHANGED SEQUIN PRODUCTION.

Herbert Lieberman of the Algy Trimmings Co. was a pioneer of sequin production in the United States whose customers included everyone from the Ringling Brothers to Elizabeth Taylor. In an interview with Derek McCormack, Lieberman said that his father had to learn how to make sequins himself when the supply in Europe “dried up” during the Second World War. Working with Eastman Kodak (the camera company), Algy was able to get his sequin material custom made out of clear plastic.

“Eastman Kodak was producing acetate for their film stock,” Lieberman explained. “They plated it on one side with real silver. They coated the silver with a clear ink of the color we desired. They colored the other side as well ... The light would penetrate through the color, hit the silver, and reflect back.”

The new sequins ran the risk of cracking like glass because of the acetate, but they were more versatile and less fragile than the alternative. 

5. A NORWEGIAN FIGURE SKATER BROUGHT SEQUINS TO THE OLYMPICS.  

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Sequins have become a standard part of the Olympic dress code for sports like gymnastics and skating, but that wasn’t always the case. In the late 1920s, figure skater Sonja Henie changed the Games with her white boots, choreography, and short skirts, which gave her more range of motion and helped her perform jumps on the ice. No doubt influenced by the flapper style of the period, Lieberman says that the three-time Olympic champion was also the first in the sport to add Algy’s sequins to her outfits.

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Pantone
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Design
Pantone Names 'Ultra Violet' 2018's Color of the Year
Pantone
Pantone

Time to retire your green apparel inspired by 2017’s color of the year: The color experts at Pantone have chosen a new shade to represent 2018. As The New York Times reports, trend followers can expect to see Ultra Violet popping up on runways in coming months.

The decision was made after Pantone scattered a team around the world to search current street styles, high fashion, art, and popular travel destinations for the up-and-coming “it” color. The brand describes the winner, PANTONE 18-3838, as “a dramatically provocative and thoughtful purple shade.”

Fashion plays a large part in the selection of the color of the year, but Pantone also considers the broader socio-political atmosphere. Some may see Ultra Violet as a nod to our stormy political climate, but the company’s announcement cast it in a more optimistic light.

“Complex and contemplative, Ultra Violet suggests the mysteries of the cosmos, the intrigue of what lies ahead, and the discoveries beyond where we are now,” it reads. “The vast and limitless night sky is symbolic of what is possible and continues to inspire the desire to pursue a world beyond our own.”

The color is associated with some of music’s greatest icons, like David Bowie, Jimi Hendrix, and Prince. The architect Frank Lloyd Wright also had a special attachment to the color and wore it when he was in need of creative inspiration. When it’s not sparking artistic thinking, purple is sometimes used to promote mindfulness in mediation spaces. So if you’re feeling stressed about whatever the new year holds, stare at the hue above for a few seconds and see if it doesn’t calm you down.

[h/t The New York Times]

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BauBax
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travel
Need to Travel Light? This Jacket Doubles as a Suitcase
BauBax
BauBax

Sometimes, carting a suitcase (or two) around on vacation is just too much of a hassle. You have to heave it into overhead compartments and taxi trunks, lug it up stairs, and deal with baggage claim. But if you need to travel extra light, there’s an extreme solution: Enter the jacket that can essentially double as a suitcase, as Travel + Leisure puts it.

BauBax jackets—$110 for a windbreaker on BauBax.com—feature 15 different compartments designed to hold all your stuff, no bag required. It has a built-in neck pillow and a hood already equipped with an eye mask to help you snooze on long flights as well as earphone holders so you never miss out on your travel tunes. It comes with its own slide-down gloves in the sleeves and a pocket for a blanket (sold separately). It has custom pockets for your passport, your sunglasses, your phone, your power bank, and your tablet. It even has a pocket just for your drink, so you never have to say “Hold my beer.” Essentially, if you want to carry it, BauBax has a dedicated place for it.

Close-ups of the 15 different pocket features of the men's BauBax bomber jacket
Screenshot via BauBax

The jackets come in a few different styles for men and women, including a bomber, a hoodie, a windbreaker, and a blazer, all with the same 15 features and compartments. You aren’t going to be able to take five changes of clothes and shoes, but if you’re just headed somewhere for a weekend or want to ditch your carry-on, it could easily cut down on your travel load.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

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