There were several requirements for the Bolshoi's new drapes, from fabric weight and colour, to density of weave and flame retardant certification level. In the end, the Molière cotton velvet developed by ShowTex stood out as the truest black that can be achieved in a staging environment. In fact, all three of the Ultrablack velvet velour fabrics from ShowTex absorb more than 99% of incoming light across the whole visible spectrum. With less than 1% light reflection, the heavy weight curtains for the Bolshoi Theatre are made from the blackest material in the world.
The flame retardant cotton velvet theatre fabrics developed exclusively by ShowTex are also the only three in the world available with Oeko-Tex 100 certification.
The Oeko-Tex Standard 100 is a globally uniform testing and certification system for textile raw materials, intermediate and end products at all stages of production to limit the use of harmful substances. The tests for harmful substances comprise substances which are prohibited or regulated by law, chemicals which are known to be harmful to health, and parameters which are included as a precautionary measure to safeguard health. By limiting harmful substances at the production level, the carbon footprint of the fabric is lowered during the entire lifespan of the theatre curtain.
Aside from the colour and ecological certification, the sheer weight of the Bolshoi's new theatrical curtains is also breaking records. The 20 meter long curtains constructed from 600g/m2 ShowTex Molière velvet combined with the 5 layered acoustic panels are the heaviest drapes ever made in the theatre world. Special care was taken in manufacturing, storing, packing, and shipping to keep the curtains from being altered or damaged along the way by their own weight. ShowTex met this one of a kind challenge by developing custom storage containers, a specialized packing technique, test installations at the International Art Centre, De Singel in Antwerp, and expert finishing all in time for the Bolshoi's planned grand reopening in October.