Saturday, March 8, 2014

Gail Carriger on Whiting & Davis Gold Mesh & Other Conundrums

OK so when you search for a "metal shirt" on the internet you don't exactly get a shirt made of metal. You see, Fashionable Reader, I have one of these draped metal shirts from the 1970s. Mine is gold and a halter.

Image off Etsy

I've considered wearing mine more as a massive scarf necklace, but never really had the guts.

Still available for purchase.

 I also have matching earrings from the 1980s, not Whiting & Davis, I don't think. Just cheap ones.

Anyway, what's my point? My point is that while I was in NY a reader gave me a Whiting & Davis Gold Mesh Purse that also matches! It's a Victorian style gate top reticule from (most likely) the 1920s. I've never seen a gate top in person, certainly not in this good condition.

Images of Etsy but mine is exactly the same
Lilliput was very intrigued

Whiting & Davis did whole dresses and full shirts in the 1980s out of this stuff. That's when I most remember this metal mesh material. However, the material scientist in me objects because it isn't technically mesh. I just know there is a special name, as opposed to the cumbersome Whiting & Davis Metal Mesh fabric. Consulted my best friend (a professional seamstress and costume designer) and she reached out and we got the following: coin mail or metal mail (also spelled maille); liquid gold or metallic scale fabric. Eventually, it turns out, the offical name is alphamesh scale.

via private listing

Yech, what an awful term for such a great fabric. Some small back of my brain is convinced it needs a Proper Name, like lurex (although, obviously, not lurex). What should it be? Tell me, tell me please?

2014 Kaufman Franco Runway
I haven't seen it around much anymore. To be fair it does get rather hot and heavy. I suppose these days we just wear fabric that looks like metal.

Retro Rack is also on facebook where I post additional images and fashion thoughts.


  1. I'm totally jealous of that purse. I collect vintage purses, especially mesh ones. I saw one similar to that one, but silver and with crystals in the cap portion, at an antique store for close to $300. I wanted it so badly but just couldn't afford it.

  2. i thinks it's lamé.

  3. As you can see by my nom de plume metal-mesh is the correct term by which you refer to the 100% metal interlocked chain that creates the magical "fabric" which is really classified as jewelry even when it is joined to form the most extravagant gowns.Whiting & Davis refer to it as metal-mesh,as well as Anthony Ferrara who designed all of the clothing line for them.I have an amazing collection of over 300 metal-mesh dresses,blouses,skirts,halters,and handbags.Part of my collection was filmed on the Antiques Roadshow this year,and might be featured on the Kansas City episodes

    1. My dear MsMetal Mesh,
      I would be thrilled to see your vast mesh collection in a photograph book! Do look into this prospect. I will be the first to purchase a copy.

  4. Please forgive my tardiness in reading such a glittering review of Whiting & Davis mesh accoutrements. It affords me unfeigned pleasure that you and Lilliput have given your keen approval to my humble gift. The mesh gated reticule was a token to commemorate your rare sojourn to New York's fabled borough of Brooklyn. Also rare is that the reticule was originally from the esteemed New York department store Best & Co. which is, alas no longer purveys fine goods. Now, how shall we Knickerbockers go about having you visit Manhattan in the not too far future?


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