Pleated silk velvet is the rarest of Fortuny fabrics, made in far less quantity than his screened cottons or pleated silks. This is a Fortuny pleated silk velvet wrap which can be worn as a shawl or scarf. Typical of Fortuny, the color is very hard to describe being so reactive with light that it seems almost alive. It is a mottled vanilla cream with golden tints that become prominent under certain lighting conditions. It measures 73 inches long and approximately 40 inches wide. The pleating makes it difficult to accurately assess the width. The edges are finished with matching cord and tiny Venetian glass beads. This gorgeous wrap will be shipped in the typical Fortuny twist and it should be stored that way to preserve the pleating. I acquired this gorgeous wrap from a Milanese antique textiles collector in the 1980s but it may be as old as the 1920s. It is in fine, wearable condition. Pure luxury!
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What Is Fortuny?
If you are not familiar with Fortuny here is a little background. Fortuny fabrics are created from a secret process and are known around the world for their sumptuous luxury. There are copycats, but there is only one Fortuny....the textile of pure luxury invented by the brilliant Mariano Fortuny in 19th Century Venice.
Antique and vintage Fortuny textiles in silk velvet, silk, and the finest cotton sell for thousands of dollars. Fortuny fabric continues to be made today and currently retails in the $600+ range per yard.
The brilliant, enigmatic Mariano Fortuny was born into a family of renowned artists in Granada, Spain, in 1871. In 1889 the family moved to Venice, where Fortuny would establish himself for the rest of his career. He entered the fashion industry in 1907, with the introduction of one of his most notable achievements, the Delphos gown, inspired largely by Greek sculpture. It was a garment, both elegant and versatile, that seemed to achieve the impossible: simultaneous simplicity and complexity. His revolutionary garments emphasized the female body in motion so well that notable dancers, such as Isadora Duncan, coveted them.Soon after, Fortuny began work on the textiles that are still manufactured today. The production of these textiles was the culmination of his knowledge of engineering, color, design, and art, into one manifestation of pure artistic genius.
Fortuny was influenced heavily by the history and romance of the past, and his textiles borrowed designs from the Renaissance and Byzantium, from the Arabs, Persians, Copts and Indians, from the golden age of Flanders and ancient timeless and avidly sought after by connoisseurs.
Fortuny's obsessive quest for perfection led to importing only the finest natural pigments from around the world to color his textiles. He invented the industrial process for printing his designs on fine white cotton to reproduce the silky raised effect of brocade. This was an immensely complicated technique for printing superimposed colors but the result was a triumph and allowed the textiles to be made available for home decor. This painstaking process continues today.
Fortuny textiles have been compared to "woven moonlight", gracing the homes of the aristocracy worldwide.