Italian fashion loves silk & velvet from Venice

Italian fashion loves silk & velvet from Venice | Venezia, Italia | Voluptuous in Venice

The tourists who flock to Venice normally come to see the most famous sights. But there are quieter corners where you will find Venetians displaying centuries-old handicrafts. Some of the small shops around the Calle dele Botteghe house genuine treasures, damask and hand-printed fabrics. Or unusual accessories made of costly handwoven scraps.

The Rubelli weavers keep an archive of historical fabrics. They date back to the golden age of silk-weaving in 16th-century Venice. The Luigi Bevilacqua weavers give some idea of what it must have looked like back then.

They work at three-hundred-year-old pedal-driven looms. The exclusive velvet’s can only be achieved by hand – at the rate of about 30 centimetres a day.

They are sent all over the world, gracing interiors from the White House to the Kremlin in Moscow. And fashion designers turn them into hautecouture. The women here are weaving red silk velvet to be used in the restoration of the Royal Palace in Dresden. “What’s known as Soprarizzo velvet was invented here in Venice.

It’s made up of several layers of fabric to create a relief-like effect and at the same time with changing colors.” Another hidden treasure is the Palazzo Fortuny- now a museum in what was the private residence of Spanish textile artist and art-nouveaupainter Mariano Fortuny from 1892.

He also developed new photography techniques and designed stage sets, having fifty inventions patented including printing processes that remain a trade secret to this day.

Mariano Fortuny gained fame for his process for producing a sheer plissèe.. His wife Henriette used it in the early 20th century to create the iconic Delphos Gown.

“The production was done on cylindrical rollers that not only gave the fabric its vertical plissèe pleats, but also its horizontal crimping.

That lends the dress even greater allure.” Only a few steps farther on is the “La Fenice” Opera, one of the world’s finest opera houses. It took several years of work to repair the damage caused by a major fire in 1996.

The gold-plated decoration in the rococoo theater hall is true to the original. Even the exquisite curtain is a perfect copy of the original. It was recreated by the Biagiotti fashion house and donated to the opera to the delight of tourists and Venetians alike.