In my earlier post, I discussed the development of my appreciation for the various Fortuny patterns and the stories linked to each. While not every pattern is associated with as specific a history as the tragedy behind Lamballe, each one does find its inspiration in the events, art, and persons of the past, whether factual or mythical in its origin.
Since my return from banishment to the sample closet at the Fortuny showroom in New York, where I spent a solid ten hours taking stock and reorganizing the samples, I left with a more developed and personal appreciation for the variety of Fortuny fabrics, patterns, and colors available to our clients. In fact, it presented me with a unique combination of my two academic disciplines, studio art and history, in a context I had never expected to explore, textiles.
As you may have noticed from our New Years Resolutions....I love purple. Any shade of it. I think it’s fun, flattering, and fabulous. That’s why my fabric of the moment is Barberini in blackberry texture. The richness of the background highlights the playful pink hues of the pattern. I just love the juxtaposition of this two-toned purple on a pattern like Barberini. It feels so classic and yet so modern. Where would I like to see this wonderful fabric used? On a bedspread. Preferably my own.
It's a four way brawl: back stabbing, greed, corruption, murder--all Fortuny Fabrics, all drama, all the time. You think I'm kidding? Well, let me tell you, I'm not.
How did I stumble into this mess? This week I was assigned the task of updating the fabric descriptions for our new pattern cards. Each pattern card has a brief, rather vague description of its origins, and, honestly, in my 15 months of working at Fortuny, I haven't given their names much thought. Most of the names are pretty straight forward. Melagrana, for instance, means Pomegranate in Italian, and guess what: there are Pomegranates in the design. Simple.
Lamballe, on the other hand, says only, "18th Century French Design named for Princesse de Lamballe." Why? "Because she's a princess, and that's cool," I thought. Wrong. As I read more and more about the historical figures that are the namesakes of our fabrics, I found myself enraptured with their stories in a way that I'm certain Mariano Fortuny himself was.
So onto the gore. This all started with Barberini because, naturally, I was working alphabetically. Enter into the ring, Barberini:
That's Pope Urban VIII also known as Maffeo Barberini. A power-hungry, big player in the height of Barberini influence.
But the Barberini family began as grain, wool and textile merchants. Small time nobility in the Florentine Republic. The Barberini estate only began to grow when Antonio Barberini traveled to Rome. Why did he travel to Rome? Just because the entire Florentine Republic was invaded and taken over by the Medici family.
Meet deMedici, named for the Medici family. The big Kahuna. The wealthiest, most powerful family in Italy for nearly FIVE centuries.
It only took a few years before the Medici family saw the threat the Barberinis posed to their fiscal monarchy, and Antonio Barberini was "offed" so to speak, by Medici forces.
The assassination of their patriarch did little to stop the Barberinis, though. In a few years, Maffeo Barberini was elected Pope, and he formed a noble/clerical entourage of his brother and three nephews. Together, they ran Rome. These bad boys were eager for power, and to many eyes, they had no limits. A critic of theirs wrote: "What the barbarians didn't do, the Barberini did." Indeed, Pope Urban VIII was famous for a number of terrible things like removing ancient bronze pillars from the Pantheon to build weapons and pimp his throne. Perhaps most notable of all of his power schemes, he started the Wars of Castro against....the Farnese Dukes.
Enter Farnese--the original old school Italian family, tracing their nobility back to the 900s:
Though change is in the air (and a fair amount of dust) some classics need no adjustment, so of course we're adorning the walls with our own, classic fabrics. Here is Felice Ciancarelli beginning the job last week--he is putting Carnavalet in grey, black and silvery gold behind the bar. The rest of the walls are covered in Papiro, Glicine, Campanelle, the original Barberini, and we have one wall upholstered in Bevilacqua Caccia. Stop by to see the rest of the walls, or check in for more pictures in a couple of days!
In honor of Philip Johnson’s birthday tomorrow, our fabric of the week is Piumette in pink, aquamarine and gold! Philip Johnson loved to use this fabric as wall covering. You can find it in the brick guest house at the Glass House, his home in New Canaan.