We need to talk about Oroton. It’s the perfect party fabric. Often mistaken for lamé or sequins, this incredible stuff is actually made of metal and has a liquid-like texture that sparkles more than all of the stars in the sky, combined.

Gianni Versace 1983

Chainmail has been used in armour since the fourth century but was it glamorised by Paco Rabanne – with some help from Jane Fonda in the film Barbarella – in the 1960s. However, it was Gianni Versace that took the novelty out of the idea. In 1982 the designer micro-sized the interlinking discs to create and patent Oroton, a fabric fluid enough to drape. The supers took it from there in the 1990s wearing the glimmering fabric in his campaigns, on the catwalk and in the clubs.

Spring/summer 2017 sees Oroton making a comeback. Versus Versace used the fabric for patches and panels; Julien Dossena stayed true to Paco Rabanne’s sporty space roots with chainmail two pieces in white and silver; PA5H draped it onto denim and Balmain created metallic toned stripes worthy of an Egyptian Pharaoh. But Mary Katrantzou really made it her own, printing it with colourful ancient Cretan art, then draping the excess into ruffles, proving just how versatile the fabric is.

spring/summer 2017

Atelier Versace still create custom-made Oroton clothing but at couture prices (the rose gold dress Michelle Obama wore to her last state dinner was valued at £12,000). Vintage Versace pieces are costly too, starting at around £1000 and averaging at £5000, but still timeless in terms of silhouettes.

A chainmail dress is the ultimate iconic investment, but not one for the fainthearted. So if you’re not feeling like full-blown Donatella, tone it down by taking only elements of Oroton; a clutch or a pair of earrings will add just the right amount of sparkle to your outfit on New Year’s eve.

Text by Abigail Southan