The owner of Fortuny is planning to develop the Storied brand – WWD

VENICE – According to Mickey Riad, creative director of Fortuny, “The world doesn’t need more, it needs more beauty.

Young artist and photographer, who owns a longstanding brand with his brother and CEO Maury, is leading the development of Forty, and on Thursday he introduced the label’s new art director, architect Alberto Torsello, who conceived the blueprints for the new gallery, which was unveiled that day.

Mariano Fortuny has revolutionized the world of document, fashion and theatre, says Riad, and he believes the brand represents “the art of living, and is too narrow to look at just one side of his heritage. With Alberto, we wanted to embody the values ​​of the company, but we had to prioritize and not try to do everything at once, but do what makes the most sense.”

The gallery is located on the island of Giudecca in a storey building that also houses the factory founded in 1922 by the Spanish artist, designer and inventor Mariano Fortuny. The factory is still in operation and produces products. produces around 25,000 meters of fabric per year – considered fitting by Torsello for the brand’s luxury and handcrafted positioning.

Torsello, who received the prestigious Compasso d’oro design award in 2018, has restored famous buildings such as the Palazzo Ducale, il Fondaco dei Tedeschi and the Scuola Grande della Misericordia in Venice.

The Riad brothers have led the company since 1998, when they inherited it from their father, Maged. The second person bought it from Elsie McNeill Lee, the interior designer Mariano Fortuny appointed as her sole representative in the United States.

Riads has been busy consolidating the company for its next chapter. “Fortuny deserves to be here forever, to reflect the importance of the artist who revolutionized the world of fabric, document, lighting and theater. His remarkable contributions have moved the world, people know his influence even if they don’t know him,” argues Mickey Riad.


Inside the Fortuny gallery.
Photo: Colin Dutton

The Riad said he is looking at developing a clothing collection, “hopefully next year”. He admits he is “very interested” fashion,” and emphasizes how Fortuny has “a voice” and “creates timeless garments” that are still modern today.

The Riad is based in New York, where he has a Fortuny archive, but spends six months a year in Venice. He said that in 2018 he produced prints for Rick Owens, who also lived in Venice and often considered Mariano Fortuny an influential person. Fortuny’s first printed fabric dates back to 1922, so next year it will mark its centenary.

With a laugh, the Riad doesn’t deny the challenges Venice poses in terms of cost and practicality, but he does emphasize the artistic and cultural influence of the city, “where East and West meet.” together”.

Torsello shares this love for Venice, the Riad emphasizes, praising the architect’s attention to detail and “the way he sees the world. Everything has meaning and purpose”. In fact, when creating the gallery, Torsello chose a space that was “functional not merely decorative,” explains the Venetian architect, adding a “theatrical element with the fabric is pulled down from the ceiling as a stage curtain and opens like a flower, a whole new mood for the room. “

The magnesite oak columns and floors, the majestic wooden staircase and the pillow library are some of the gallery’s distinguishing elements, in the red-brick building surrounding a beautiful and unexpected garden.


The garden at the Fortuny headquarters.
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The fabrics are made entirely of cotton thanks to secret techniques and by using the same original machinery invented by Mariano Fortuny. The colors are created according to a formula invented by his wife Henriette Negrin with natural ingredients, plant and insect extracts, such as the unique Fortuny blue. The fabric patterns are inspired by the light and reflections of the Venetian lagoon.

The company does not work with inventory, fabrics must be ordered and delivered in about three months, with retail prices ranging from 300 to 450 euros a meter. Showroom appointments must be booked in advance.

The US is Fortuny’s largest market, accounting for 70% of its business, with Europe accounting for the remaining 30%. The Riad credits McNeill Lee for developing the US market, “bringing Fortuny out of churches and museums and into homes, selling not just on commission but by the clock.”

Torsello says he also wants to help Riad “stick with Fortuny’s artistic path, create scientific and humanistic content,” and collaborate with the Venice Biennale, the Guggenheim and Fortuny museums, and educational institutions other, creating a relationship with the city and promoting a culture of exchange. “This is a manual, non-industrial activity. At the same time, he says, “we’re identifying new products that fit the brand’s ethos, such as home or personal accessories, but we’re also looking at collaborations with artists.” “.

Riad and Torsello say the lockdown has spurred interest in home decor and predict a return to more luxurious, layered, textured styles in Europe, “something that has never gone away.” in the US and UK”

“These are not inanimate fabrics that breathe life into immaterial objects and give them life, that is true luxury,” Riad said.


Fortuny pillow wall.
Photo: Colin Dutton The owner of Fortuny is planning to develop the Storied brand – WWD


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