Like so many of the world’s great discoveries, silk was stumbled across in an entirely serendipitous manner. According to ancient Chinese fable, the Empress Leizu – wife of the Yellow Emperor – was sitting beneath a mulberry tree sometime around 2700 BC, when a silkworm cocoon fell from the branches above into her cup of tea. As she tried to fish it out, its threads began to unravel and she noticed how wonderfully soft and glossy they were. As a result of this chance encounter, she kick-started silk cultivation – or sericulture to use the correct term – and was later deified under the title “Seine Than”, meaning “goddess of silk worms”. Not bad going for someone who just happened to be hanging out under a tree having elevenses.
For some practical advice on the subject, we spoke to Mr Dean Gomilsek-Cole, creative director of Turnbull & Asser – a brand whose fine silk accessories have been worn by the likes of Mr James Bond, Sir Winston Churchill and HRH Prince Charles. Seeing as Mr Gomilsek-Cole has an ever-expanding personal collection of 160 silk ties and pocket squares, we can certainly trust his wisdom on the topic.