Watered silk. Moire. And all it’s variations (moire antique, moire francaise, moire ineraillable, etc….) According to Wikipedia, Moire was available as early as the Middle Ages. This is certainly possible, as the earliest mangle found has been dated 1444, and was located in Bergen Norway. Now Norway is pretty far removed from China. Which logically says that the first moire was probably linen or wool.
This is just supposition. The Chinese invented everything else so it is not impossible that they invented watered silk, and I just haven’t uncovered the term they use for it. I was wrong about crepe, I could be wrong about this. But if China did not invent this technique, and the earliest mangle was located in Norway, than most likely moire was first linen, possibly wool, with silk being discovered by a foolhardy chamber maid who was probably beaten for putting the very expensive silk through a mangle. Yeah the effect was cool, but what the hell!
Alternatively, the meaning has changed over the years. According to Fairchild, Moire was “formerly applied to various fabrics of great value and luster. Gold, silver, and silk fabrics are called moire in 15th and 16th century French documents (p. 393).”
Now, what does all this mean? Well it means that language is a living thing and meaning changes over time.
Conversely, Calendering is when a piece of fabric is passed through a calender, a machine with two or more cylinders which touch. As the fabric passes through, heat and/or water is added, creating stretch and pull along the grain line of the fabric. This creates a rippling, embossed, effect on the fabric surface. This effect is not permanent unless specifically set using heat or chemicals.
Which is why this is one of the few fabrics I recommend for dry clean only. If you don’t want to dry clean (because, hey…who does?) then make very sure you wash a test piece first. Verify that the calendering effect is permanent. If it’s not, then your options are to dry clean. Or make very sure it’s not going to rain the day you wear your dress.