Smooth as: how to care for your delicate silks

Legends about silk stretches back to 2640BC. Here’s how to keep it in the best possible shape in the 21st century

More so than other fabrics, the history of silk is shrouded in mystery and folklore, which feels apt for a fibre that is drawn from the cocoon of the silkworm. Its legend begins with the teenage wife of the Yellow Emperor.

Sometime in 2640BC she was in her garden drinking tea beneath a mulberry tree when a cocoon fell into her cup. As she pulled it out, the cocoon dissolved into a long, translucent thread. The teenage empress studied and experimented with the thread until eventually she invented a version of the reel and loom so she could teach the ladies of her court to weave the long strands into fabric. In the thousands of years that have passed, the practice of sericulture has been refined and spread across the globe.

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