AN INESTIMABLE HERITAGE OF TEXTILE DESIGN: THE RENZO BRANDONE FUND

The Fashion Research Italy Foundation has assured Bologna assets of about 30,000 textile designs on paper and cloth as well as over 5,000 volumes of fashion, belonging to a well-known ex-converter in Milan and sought after by many Italian and foreign buyers.

Following the thought of one of the founding fathers of fashion sociology, Roland Barthes, who defines fashion as “the eternal return of the new” and convinced that it is not enough today to preserve a culturally evolved service, the Foundation wanted to put these materials at the service of the Italian manufacturing companies.

The textures are kept in the Bologna headquarters of the Foundation, in Via del Fonditore 12, inside two vaults specially designed to conserve and preserve them from time.

THE MEMORY OF A CONVERTER THAT TELLS THE STORY OF TEXTILE DESIGN

The textile design fund takes its name from the previous owner Renzo Brandone, Etro’s historic collaborator, who wanted his material to remain undivided on Italian soil. One reason that weighed in the idea of naming this acquisition after him.

RENZO BRANDONE

Born in Milan in 1941 from a family of weavers, after studying industrial chemistry, he soon followed in his father’s footsteps working in the converter company Sisan owned by his family friend Pontremoli.
The passion for textile design was deepened by the contact with the gifted Gerolamo Etro, son of Pontremoli, with whom he had a partnership parenthesis. Determined to set up his own business, in 1978 he founded a converter of his own, Silkin, beginning the adventure that gave life over time to an immense collection of textile design for textile printing.

THE CONVERTER ACTIVITY

The extension of the materials that make up the Fund is the result of a recently concluded activity that is the intact memory of the decades-long history of the converter and the concrete testimony of a part of the Made in Italy fashion chain.

Silkin, in fact, did not base his business on a single collection to be exhibited in the various international trade fairs, as was usual, but was able to meet the individual requests of fashion companies by making ad hoc drawings based on specific indications of the stylists. Over the years, the Renzo Brandone Fund has therefore been enriched with a substantial number of beautiful textile designs made by the best Italian and foreign textile design studios for the great fashion system brands, including: La Perla, Max Mara, Moschino, Ralph Lauren, Les Copains, Versace, Iceberg, Gucci, Loewe, Armani, Aspesi, Dolce & Gabbana and Prada.

To anticipate and satisfy the tastes of designers, the converter carried out research on trends inspired by films of the year, popular tourist spots, etc. Everything spoke of fashion and was translatable into a printing trend.
The research was also based on the purchase of antique drawings on paper and on fabric from vendors, among which stand out precious borders of dresses with floral motifs and beautiful Provençal with madder tincture; of fabrics during travel or from merchants from all over the world; of many postcards and greeting cards between 1982 and 1989, the result of research trips to New York, Miami and Los Angeles: a kaleidoscope of shapes and colors from the most varied themes (from fantastic animals to American cities) that inspired the drawings produced by the company.

Thanks to the daily help of Renzo Brandone and his historic collaborator, Bona Mastruzzi, the catalographic system has respected the complexity of the company, not limiting itself to display a series of textile designs but preserving the history of this company.
The consultation of these materials therefore makes it possible to measure the extent of the profound changes taking place in the manufacturing sector.

30,000 TEXTILE DESIGNS CATALOGED AND ON DIGITAL SHEETS

Thanks to the technical support of the software-house Promemoria of Turin, the entire textile design heritage of the Renzo Brandone Fund has undergone a systematic digital cataloging campaign according to rigorous parameters, aimed at bringing out all the useful information to creative people or scholars who will go to the Foundation to do research.

An innovative and functional navigation that concerns the history of fashion textile design from the late 70s to today. The subjects of the drawings have been cataloged by a description divided into 51 macro-areas and 576 linked sub-categories, furtherly subdivided.

The Fund reports on trends that were fashionable in the different periods and their cyclical repetition. Shapes, colors, moods (romantic, aggressive, nostalgic, historical) have always been at the base of the constitution of fashion collections. Some examples:

  • OPTICAL
    Optical, especially in black and white, is the trend that has made some of the historical fashion brands famous since the 60s. The conspicuous presence of Optical in the collection of Renzo Brandone textile designs testifies the vital strength of this trend that resists time. As a matter of fact, it dominated the recent autumn-winter catwalks
  • ANIMALIER
    It is perhaps one of the trends that is still present within the collections on an ongoing basis. Since Dior imposed it on the catwalks of the Paris Haute Couture in 1947, fashion, even the most accessible, has been Animalier.
  • FOREST
    Fashion has always been attracted by the forest in its most varied forms, especially for spring-summer collections. There are many textile designs in possession of the Foundation by Giuseppe Spadacini, owner of Studio Tucano di Como, one of the most important and recognized designers who has distinguished himself on this theme.
  • FLORAL
    It is the trend of all times, but every fashion season finds its specific bouquet, both in winter and spring-summer. Many variants: from the hibiscus for the sunny summer, to the Provençal, from the “calico prints” (a term that indicates a specific floral theme, formed by small-sized flowers) to all the botany, to which fashion has drawn unstoppable fantasy and full of artistic quotations. Amongst the most famous cases, the “sanderson rose”, used in furniture, flowered on clothes starting only in the 90s thanks to Prada’s innovative style.
  • GEOMETRIC
    After the famous autumn-winter collection of 1971-1972, Yves Saint Laurent imposes geometric style inspired by Mondrian’s paintings. A success that definitively cleared the relationship between art and fashion and imposed geometric style in collections. From that moment on, this pattern defined as a fashion trend. The textile design drawings of the Renzo Brandone Fund tell the story of its development and its many rationalist, Bauhaus, macro and micro variations for different uses, from total-look to ties.
  • CASHEMERE
    A curved-beaded drop declined in countless variations, a seductive motif (originating from the Indian region of Cashmere) that recalls exotic imaginaries. Also known as boteh or paisley, it is one of the decorative motifs that have gone through the history of textile design: starting from shawls made and printed in the Europe of the 1930s and then from the second half of the nineteenth century to a contamination of the curvilinear drop with the baroque volute. But it is in the 80s that a new rise in this trend is achieved, meeting the favor of the Milanese and Parisian haute couture and prêt à porter, until today.

Year: 1995
Dimensions: 62 x 50
composition scheme: all over continuous
Backing: fabric
Technique: Inkjet Printing
Manufactured for: Ralph Lauren

Over 5000 volumes, including ancient and modern samples books.

Genre: tropical

Marinier elements and sophisticated color stripe embody the urban-chic style of the early nineties.

RENZO BRANDONE

Born in Milano in 1941 and still young follows his father’s footsteps, a textile manufacturer. Passion for the business is consolidated working with Pontremoli, after who’s the death, in 1978 he founds, the converter Silkin. It is in the historical headquarters in Milano that Renzo Brandone starts to appreciate the beauty of the printed fabrics generating the style that characterizes the later productions. The quality was such that it was believed not to build unique collections to be exhibited at international fairs but to work upon individual requests from companies that were offered the possibility to customize prints, realizing the drawings according to the stylists’ inspiration.

Genre: optical

Year: 1975 – 1985
Dimensions: 70 x 40
Composition scheme: panel placed
Support: paper
Technique: tempera painting

Genre: neckwear

Year: 1986
Dimensions: 50 x 35
composition scheme: all over continuous
Support: paper
Technique: tempera painting

Genre: artistic

An artistic textile inspired by the Futurist movement.

Among the many designs on fabric, a series in which the brushstroke becomes vibrant and stands out like a painting on canvas.

Luxurious parrots and exotic flowers. A variation on the theme among the many of the Brandone Fund.

Genre: animalier

Year: 1975 – 1986
Dimensions: 65 x 65
Composition scheme: placed panel
Support: paper
Technique: tempera painting

Year: 1992
Dimensions: 49 x 33
composition scheme: all over continuous
Support: paper
Technique: Print

THE DRAWINGS OF THE FUND PROTAGONISTS OF NUMEROUS FASHION STORIES

The designs of the Renzo Brandone Fund have been the subject of new projects between exhibitions and catwalks, through prestigious collaborations undertaken with big names in the Fashion System.

CACHEMIRE, THE SIGN IN MOVEMENT

Inside the exhibition itinerary of the Cashmere exhibition, the moving sign, organized by the Antonio Ratti Foundation (FAR) from 18 June to 18 September 2016 in the splendid setting of Villa Sucota in Como, some drawings by the Renzo Brandone Fund were present.

  • Two prints engraved for Ralph Lauren in 1995 at the Larianella printing house, with their color variations and a series of production data of great interest.
  • An advertisement by Oleg Cassini, designer of Italian origin among the most beloved by Jacqueline Kennedy, published in the1979 magazine Linea Italiana in which two dresses made with the cashmere motifs of two textile designs of the Fund appear, engraved in 1978 at the printing house Comprint.

A COLLABORATION ON THE NEW YORK CATWALK

Following the footsteps of the converter business, the Florentine designer Chiara Boni, at the reins of the La Petite Robe brand, chose, among the approximately 30,000 pieces of textile design held in the vaults of the Foundation, a design with an intricate vegetal texture.
Revised, modified in shades of pink and green and printed on a stretch fabric, it enriched two cocktail dresses from the spring-summer 2017 collection that were presented in New York in September 2016.

BREAKFAST WITH SIMONE GUIDARELLI

The well-known fashion editor, with more than fifty fashion covers and collaborations with the most important photographers of the sector (from Giovanni Gastel to Patrick Demarchelier), has interpreted, with his irony and elegance, the heritage of the Renzo Brandone fund through the collaboration “At breakfast with Simone”. Collaboration of which the Foundation is very proud and that has seen him author of a series of still-lives, made exclusively with some of the materials of the textile design archive.

5000 SECTOR VOLUMES FOR RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT OF PRINT PATTERNS

The Renzo Brandone fund also consists of a core of over 5,000 sectorial volumes collected over the past thirty years of the converter company’s activities in researching and developing print themes and patterns.
Many rare and international editions, from the Japanese Esper of textile design, to the photographic collections published by Luigi Brivio in Como to books on textiles and catalogs of art. The book heritage is constantly enriched, thanks to new acquisitions and donations.

The book fund, a research tool also for the staff of the Foundation, will also be enriched by a series of subscriptions to the main fashion, costume and textile magazines, both Italian and foreign, soon serving style offices, students and scholars.
Momentarily not accessible as the reorganization and cataloging according to the standard criteria of the SNB (National Library System) are underway.

THE FUTURE OF TEXTILE DESIGN: THE RENZO BRANDONE FUND AT THE SERVICE OF FASHION COMPANIES

Among the most important in the national sphere, the assets of the Renzo Brandone Fund acquired by the Foundation, created in over 40 years of activity of a Milan converter company, is an important source for research and development of printing patterns.
The digital cataloging enables online and physical consultation of this archive, at the Bologna headquarters of the Foundation in Via del Fonditore 12.

To consult the collection of textile designs of the Renzo Brandone Fund, it is possible to arrange an appointment with the Archive department of the Fashion Research Italy Foundation, calling 051 220086.

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