My Friday Fav today is Mariano Fortuny and his magnificent and sumptuous silk dresses, cloaks and medieval style robes.
I really love this artist because his fame and art are closely linked with Venice despite his name reveals its Spanish origin: he was born in Granada on 11 May 1871 and he spent his childhood between Rome, a little town near Naples and Paris. Fortuny was just eighteen when his family moved to Venice, in a palace in the Canareggio and soon he started to love the new place, its architecture, the oriental atmosphere of the city and the work of Venetian Renaissance painters such as Bellini, Titian, Veronese and Giorgione: all these elements influenced his dress design and his friends said that he spoke Venetian better than Italian.
At the age of forty he threw totally himself into fashion design, after devoting his life to photography, painting and sculpture. His name is connected with the thin pleated silk dress but we must not forget that the Fortuny style was the result of a collaboration between him and the French modell Henriette Negrin. They spent forty-seven happy years together in Venice and in 1909 they opened the first Fortuny boutique in Palazzo Orfei, later renamed Palazzo Fortuny. They worked in this way: he invented the pleated look and the dyeing process while Henriette picked out the patterns and block-printed the patterns of the dresses.
It is important to remark that Fortuny was not a couturier because he did not present an annual collection but he was interested in reaching a big and romantic purpose: a timeless ideal form of beauty.
The "Delphos" dress, the most famous icon of his style, was cut out flat in one piece, than the imported Japanese folded silk laid on heated porcelain tubes fixing permanently the tight pleats with the help of Chinese crystallized egg white. The result was a pressed dress that recalled the idealized "flower-woman" and the "Delphi Charioteer", from ancient Greece. Every single dress had the shoulders and seams accentuated with Murano glass beads, made specially for Fortuny. The success of Fortuny's creations lasted from 1910 until the Forties.
It is today already possible to breathe and feel its power and creativity visiting Palazzo Fortuny in Venice. I went there a couple of years ago and I can assure that the "primo piano nobile" (first reception hall) had a powerful impact on me. I found his fabrics, collections, paintings and dresses simply amazing.