Fame And Fortuny
Every designer loves Fortuny fabrics. They are rich, elegant, Byzantine and Boho, all at the same time.
They conjure up the House of Medici so well, for example, that set decorators can be forgiven their anachronistic use of them in so many historical films. Designers turn to them to convey depth and sumptuousness, because they are timeless- and they are timeless because no one would ever want to discard them. (If you have a piece that is worn and frayed, frame it- don't let it go!) The interior needs to accommodate them- not the other way around- the way artwork and jewelry hold their own in the midst of galloping trends.
In looking into various articles to give some background, it was amusing to find so many that stated some version of "Fortuny is making a comeback", because, as every interior designer and textile artist knows, it never went away.
There are many new patterns that the company is offering - modern in imagery and composition, but using the same, proprietary techniques that Mariano Fortuny created at the beginning of the last century. Below, find a few:
Even further below, there are images of some classic Fortuny patterns for you to feast your eyes on, along with some interiors, both modern and traditional, that have deftly used these incredible classics.
A little history of the man and his factory, paraphrased from the Fortuny website:
Mariano Fortuny, the unparalleled Venetian fabric designer, was actually born into a family of artists in Granada, Spain.
Fortuny’s father, Mariano Fortuny y Marsal, passed away in Rome, when Mariano was only three. Soon after, his mother moved the family to Paris, then to Venice, Italy and it was here that Fortuny established himself for the rest of his life and career.
Clearly, deeply influenced by the pattern and architecture of the city, he “approached his work through the perspectives of art, technology, and science. The city, so special and unique, made his faith in the past a source of inspiration.”
Fortuny’s fashion and textile designs were spotted by Elsie McNeill Lee, an American who was traveling in Paris. Enchanted by Fortuny’s fabrics that were hanging in the Carnavalet Museum, she traveled to Venice to meet with the artist and convince him to allow her to be the exclusive American distributor of his fabrics.
Her shop opened at 509 Madison Avenue, in New York, making these fabrics coveted in the finest interiors and fashion.
After Fortuny’s death in 1949, an at his wife, Henriette’s request, Elsie takes over the entire company. She later married Italian Count Alvise Gozzi and became Countess Elsie Lee Gozzi, known as La Contessa.
“Splitting her time between running the showroom in New York and the factory in Venice she stayed involved in all aspects of production – supervising every yard of fabric from its printing to its marketing – and creating new designs.”
As she got older, she turned to her “trusted confidante, Maged Riad, to purchase the company from her”, which he did in 1988; the same year she passed away.
The Company is still owned and run by Riad’s son, Mickey and Maury.
Fiona Newell Weeks
Now where are you going to put some Fortuny?