The premier luxury dye of the ancient world was “Porphyra” or Tyrian purple, a reddish-purple natural dye extracted from a particular species of sea snail. According to Aristoteles, the preparation of the dye for clothes began in Spring. It was extremely time-consuming and the final product was worth it’s weight in gold, since thousands of snails were required to produce just one gram of dye. Only royalty and very wealthy people could afford to dye their clothes in this manner.
One of the most striking characteristics of “Porphyra” was that it did not fade but actually became brighter and more intense with weathering and sunlight.
The Greek islands, amongst which Rhodes, Kos, Amorgos, Chios and Crete, were renowned for its production.
The other dyes with herbs and fruits were also intended exclusively for the wealthy, as colored garments were a luxury in antiquity. Common people’s clothes were undyed.
Natural dyes, with raw materials deriving from nature, were used for thousands of years, until the late 19th century when chemical dyes came into common use. Chemical dyes were quite a revolution as they were used for everybody’s clothing.
However, one authentic luxury has remained unchanged over the centuries; from antiquity to the present, clothes dyed with natural ancient recipes.
A luxury both in those days and today.