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Chainmail is created from metal rings linked together in patterns to form "metal fabric" and was used as a protective armour for soldiers as far back as 400BC. The name mail comes from the French word "maille" which is derived from the Latin "macula" meaning "net".


It was fabricated by linking iron or steel rings, the ends of which were either pressed together, welded or riveted. Often the rings were stamped out of iron sheet and were then used in alternate rows with riveted links.

Flexible, comfortable, easy to repair, hardwearing against the rigours of the battlefield (and rather stylish to boot); chainmail remained fashionable for over 2000 years, only falling from favour with the proliferation of firearms.


During the 1960’s Paco Rabanne revitalised the medium of chainmail as a fashion item, to great acclaim, with mail accessories and clothing, something that the fashion house has done once more in October 2010 with the relaunch of their iconic 1969 chainmail handbag.


And PR isn’t the only designer enamoured with chainmail right now. With jewellery trends heading firmly towards a bold, heavy metal look, Versace, AF Vandevorst’s, Zac Posen, Cavalli, Marios Schwab and Christopher Kane to name a few, have all featured Chainmail on their catwalks recently. Some have fashioned tunics and bodypieces from mail - which is fine for the die hard fashionistas and the bravehearts among us – but the really good news is that there will be plenty more clientele who are looking to accessorise with chainmail jewellery.


Chainmail hasn’t been this mainstream since the Middle Ages.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jayne Coulson

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