The fibre of the gods
A slender animal with a fawn and white coat, the vicuña has a magnificent treasure in its exceptionally fine fleece, which adorns it in unrivalled fineness and softness. Overhunted in the 1960s for its fleece, a protection programme in Peru ensured the resurgence of the Queen of the Andes. Today, vicuñas roam freely in small groups in their natural territory.
In common with its fellow Andean species, the alpaca, guanaco and llama, the vicuña belongs to the larger camelid family which originated from the region of modern-day North America. Of all the camelids, the vicuña gives by far the best wool. With a diameter of 11 to 14 microns and a length of around 30 millimetres, the fibre from its fleece is the number one precious wool in the world.
Each vicuña gives 300 grams of wool per harvest: wonderful gossamer wisps of 12 microns in diameter. In addition to its fineness and its length, which gives it a particular sheen, vicuña fibre has a beauty and brilliance that derives from its unmatched brightness.
Discovering the vicuña involves a visit to the Jujuy province in Northern Argentina’s Salta region, to experience the terrain and the altitude. This incomparable landscape is home to the vicuña. Dormeuil settles in for a rare event, the shearing of this small member of the camelid family whose wool is a gift from the gods. The animal is protected and respected, and every effort is made to treat it with the utmost reverence, prudence and consideration.
Vicuñas are shorn one at a time using electric clippers. Shearing takes no more than a few minutes to limit the stress to the animal, which is immediately released. Vicuñas are shorn every two years and are ringed for identification from one year to the next.