What do Michael Jackson, King Tut, and Leonardo da Vinci have in common? Sequins.
Word Origin: From both the Arabic word sikka and the Italian zecchino, both of which mean “coin” or “the mint.” For centuries, variations of sikka and zecchino were used in Europe and the Middle East.
1341–1323 BC: When King Tut’s tomb was discovered, there were gold sequin-like disks found sewn to his garments. Historians believe they were meant to ensure his financial stability in the afterlife.
1480–1482: There is a sketch dated between 1480 and 1482 from Leonardo Da Vinci for a machine that, using levers and pulleys, would punch small disks out of a metal sheet.
1922: Sequins saw a purely decorative resurgence after the discovery of King Tut’s tomb detailing the intricate garments of Victorian women and men. Fun fact: sequins during this time were made of gelatin. It wasn’t uncommon for sequins to melt if your body grew too hot or you got caught in the rain.
1930s: Herbert Lieberman is the man behind sequins as we know them. He worked with Eastman Kodak to develop acetate sequins. They looked beautiful but were still fragile.
1952: DuPont invented Mylar and changed sequins again. The largest sequin producer, the Lieberman-owned company Algy Trimmings Co., adopted the transparent polyester film.
Eventually: The mylar-acetate combination was discarded for vinyl plastic. More durable and cost effective.
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