We’ve partnered with Vogue Italia to explore the Italian Touch – the unique Italian attitude towards life, craft and food that makes our country and the people who live in it so special. Today we look at some of Italy’s most luxurious exports and discover the talented and dedicated craftsmen who create them.
Silk - a naturally fascinating material that Italian skill and knowledge has made a unique staple all over the world. Despite silkworm (Bombyx Mori) cultivation being rooted in the Eastern countries, Italian craftsmen were able of innovate and make the most of silk’s unique features, crafting, as a result, top-quality textiles. Since the very beginning, craftsmanship and creativity have contributed to sophisticated and unrivalled pieces that have been gradually been fine-tuned throughout the history of silk, turning the cloth into true works of art to wear and flaunt.
Looking back to the 1700s, Calabria was the main silk producer - so much so that its silks dressed the aristocracy all across Europe. The precious damasks of the Basilica dell’Immacolata of Catanzaro are a fantastic example of Calabria’s cultural and artistic excellence. The busiest silk district in Italy today is Como, and since the 1900s the production of silk as been closely intertwined with the life of the local community. The murun, as the silkworm was called in the local dialect, was handled by farmers during spring while women and children’s task was picking mulberry leaves to feed and grow the caterpillars. The Como district became well-known not just for the quality of its textiles, but also for the special process resulting in fine designer creations.
Colours and patterns combine with an inimitable style, the result of the fabric’s softness, smoothness and hang. A vast array of textures (twill, chiffon, georgette, satin, jacquard) come from silk, and each one is suitable for specific uses and for countless experimentations. In fact, silk has even been decorated using paintbrushes and special tempera.
The skill and creativity of Como silk craftsmen, has made it the best in the world according to the international press. The New York Journal-American, in reference to silk and its ‘Italian touch’, wrote that ‘rich materials enhance style’; a viewpoint that the artisans of Como certainly agree with. The way a silk thread is transformed into a tie, a headscarf or the fabric of a dress is an enchanting process that perfectly represents what the Italian touch means, encompassing the craftsmanship and creativity that has made silk one of Italy’s most beautiful exports.
This article originally appeared on Vogue Italia.