Wednesday, October 27, 2010

La cultura del bello

Since the early 1900s, Como, a 2,000-year-old Roman town on the shore of the lake of the same name, has been the heart of Italy's silk industry. Stanley Lewis had the good sense to source the heart of their products from this part of the world – and their offerings boast the results with the silkiest and softest of fabric and color. Just look at this silk lime green tie. It’s beautiful! I gauge my ties by the number of compliments I get. I got four “I love your tie” remarks the day I wore this one to work last week.

As I did some research on Italian Silk, I found it interesting that two Persian merchants disguised as priests smuggled silkworms out of China way back in the sixth century. They initiated the labor-intensive business of breeding silkworms and it spread to other parts of Italy and the Mediterranean area. It didn’t take long before master weavers were working in Florence and Venice making it a silk processing center for the entire region. Then in the 17th century Como became the country's largest producer.

I never knew this, but the silkworm will eat just about anything, but it will only produce silk when it eats mulberry.

World War II was the catalyst of many changes in Europe - and the work of cultivating the rapacious and picky silkworms left Italy after the war returning to China. For Italy though, the finishing end of silk production stayed and expanded. Today in Como and the surrounding foothills, there are some 800 companies engaged in the silk and textile trade—manufacturing, printing, dyeing, designing, and selling. More than 23,000 Comaschi, as Como residents are called, work in the business. In 2007 they turned out some 4,400 tons of silk fabric. (I find “tons” of silk to be mind-boggling, considering its weight).

Como’s physical setting—a palm-lined fjord with an improbable Mediterranean climate and snowy ridgelines in the near distance—may be unmatched in the world. Even its man-made attractions, especially the grand 16th- to 19th-century villas that dot its shores, suggest that adding to the sum of beauty on earth is what is supposed to happen here. And it does—in the silk, in the architecture and in the lifestyles. It’s called la cultura del bello,. "The culture of beauty".

Source and quote: Smithsonian Magazine

Amazing silk ties: Stanley Lewis


tricia said...

it's really amazing how people react to color, it's a visceral, gut, almost animal like reaction. whenever i wear a lot of color i get so many looks and compliments. i try to believe that the ones who just look and say nothing are mesmerized and can't form words. either way, people notice, and their reaction is almost always positive. it's a wonder more people don't wear more color; sadly, i feel like social mores, a lack of confidence, and a lack of innate color sense keep people from wearing more color. too bad. :)

also: there's nothing quite like silk. such beautiful hand and color. a delight to the senses.

Laguna Beach Fogey said...

Just beautiful. Thanks for this.