Approaching Fortuny’s factory at Giudecca island feels like approaching a world apart – feels like entering a magic world of artistic heritage and the extraordinary beauty of handcrafted design.
That very factory is where magic was born back in 1919 when Mariano Fortuny (born in Spain and moved to Venice together with his family) decided to purchase the property of an ancient hidden convent on Giudecca island, and build his studio, which by then already outgrew the scale.
That very factory was also where Mariano, could finally realize his dreams and iconic visions for Fortuny’s centuries and fairytales to come.
As an artist, Mariano did not only create the well-known and much-appreciated Delphos gown (which has apropos been described by Marcel Proust as faithfully antique but markedly original) as well as unique fabrics for theater and dance costumes, but his name too stands for a whole paradigmatic new spirit and creation of the most outstanding iconic fabrics, which eventually turned into galaxies and paragons of noble heritage.
Photo: © Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia – Museo Fortuny
In his artistic process and creation, Mariano’s own rare collection of textiles, appears to function as a main source of inspiration, as well as a starting point for what he was able to reimagine in a seemingly modern fashion in his own designs.
Back in the 1920s, Fortuny’s Giudecca locus turned into a sphere of artistic craftmanship and experimentation. And while flaneuring through the hidden gardens of Giudecca, one might only too well imagine a determined and passionate Mariano, diving into his atelier, evolving his ideas and dreams, after a walk through the garden with huge trees and exotic floral beings, a rarity in Venice.
Due to the increase in price and scarcity of silk at this time, M. Fortuny worked with a more readily available material, which was cotton. His methods to treat cotton and other materials still being used to produce Fortuny’s fabrics today, are a well-guarded secret until this day – just as the doors to the holy workshops at Fortuny’s Giudecca ateliers.
For all his secrets will forever remain secret, Fortuny keeps producing its fabrics and dreams in the very original factory, using the original machines and the very same process, thereby preserving the founder’s heritage and its Venetian origin.
Part of that history and heritage also is Elsie McNeill Lee, American interior designer, who back in the 1930s fell in love with Fortuny’s fabrics exhibited in the Paris Carnavalet Museum. That very lady is, for instance, the reason why Fortuny has next to the Venice showroom, built another galaxy of fabrics in New York.
And while the genius of M. Fortuny passed away in 1949, his legacy continues to be lived and loved until today.
That is also thanks to his loving wife, Henriette Negrin and the support of dear friend Elsie McNeill – a commitment and creative affair, which is being passionately continued by the Riad Family. Fortuny certainly keeps accomplishing its mission to deliver both Venetian beauty and distinction of patterns, colours and quality – which makes the brand unique in the world, and without any doubt, a timeless classic in home decor.
Cause who would not recognize and wish to own a Fortuny curtain or a Fortuny lounge in a most stylish living room?
Cause Fortuny is about heritage and preservance of quality, is about emotions, passion and Italian handcraft.
Just as Mariano was, and will always be. His scent and ideas of beauty are still alive and to be felt at Giudecca – a unique place to hide & find peace, which ultimately derives from aesthetics and nature – but that’s just a mixture of the secret Fortuny ingredients.
The rest will always be a Venice secret (to admire and to dream of)!
Special thanks to Fortuny Tessuti Artistici (Venice, Italy)
Garments provided by Aloe & Wolf Vintage (Siena, Italy)
Bag provided by ALPR Communication (Milan, Italy)
Silk creation provided by Lara LCP (Florence, Italy)