Once shunned as tacky, scratchy and smelly, polyester was front and center on spring runways this year. "In fashion when something's so hideous, it's great," Marc Jacobs tells W about his use of the synthetic in Louis Vuitton cardigans and skirts. Japanese designers Rei Kawakubo and Issey Miyake have spearheaded polyester's return to the glory of its 1960s heyday.
Technological improvements have keyed renewed interest in polyester, which was first made in the 1940s of acids and alcohols derived from petroleum. Lanvin designer Alber Elbaz couldn’t recognize the fabric at first, and says his clients thought it was washed silk. More than half the Lanvin spring line uses Japanese polyester, capturing the designer's desired “fly away” effect.