Recently, I was faced with a situation in one of my projects where I foresee myself needing to have a geometry object simulated as cloth, but at certain times need to assume the specific shape, making the simulated shape 'directable'.
In this test video, I successfully turned a cylinder into an nCloth, letting it simulate freely, hanging on the top vertices by a constraint. Later it loosely assumes the shape of the reference cylinder on screen left, and freely simulates again after a while.
Memory cloth test from Patrick Woo on Vimeo.
Using Maya's nCloth, I achieved a cloth object that can assume a specific shape (from a cylinder to a cylinder deformed by a non-linear wave deformer on screen left).
On top of the base mesh changes, the cloth manages to retain the flowing surface that is rippled by turbulent wind. So I get an underlying shape that is direct-able and a surface that is simulating on top.