Founded in 1983, the Etro family business is famous for its paisley patterns. Which can be traced back to the golden age of Mesopotamia and have become the label’s trademark. We looked over son Kean Etro’s shoulder while he was working.
In 1968 Gerolamo and Roberta Etro came back home from their travels in India with the idea of founding a fabrics company that would produce cashmere, silk, linen and cotton materials in unusual combinations of colours and patterns. Their children Veronica, Jacopo, Kean and Ippolito now run the family’s lifestyle empire with its mens- and womenswear lines, perfumes, fabrics, home furnishings and accessories. Veronica Etro is responsible for the womenswear collections, Kean for menswear. He granted us a glimpse into his creative process.
Hand-painted tailoringHe has just revived a dormant artists’ colony in Como. He has the artists hand-paint the surfaces of pre-tailored shirts and suits and calls this process “hand-painted tailoring”. The colours are applied to shirts, corduroy and velvet suit jackets in several layers and matching shades. Beforehand, numerous colour tests are carried out on pieces of fabric to check the colour mixture and its hold on the material. Design templates are attached at the right angle to pre-defined parts of the clothes for the base coat of the pattern. Then many minute brushstrokes and many minimally differing shades of colour in innumerable layers work together to draw out the nuances of the pattern. This painting is an elaborate procedure. It results in something resembling the trompe-l’oeil effects in great Italian palazzi, whose ceiling frescos often provide Kean Etro with his inspiration. The prints appear and disappear on the items of clothing like an illusion. The effect is as if the painted paisley flowers and leaves were whirling around on the shoulders and sleeves of the jackets, before apparently dissolving in the air. You can see them in the latest winter collection for men.
Circle of PoetsKean Etro revealed in an interview for the World Fashion Channel that before he starts designing, he meditates. He says he first empties himself, like a jar, so that afterwards he can fill himself with impressions via all of his senses: what he feels, smells, sees, touches – he incorporates all of that in his designs. He is interested in ethnology, anthropology and ethnography and he collects antique books: his collection currently numbers some 15,000 volumes. He is well aware that art is an inexhaustible source of inspiration for fashion. Which is why he recently launched the “Circle of Poets”. Following the example of the Scapigliatura movement of the 19th century, which was active in Milan and Lombardy, Etro has brought together the creative energy of young, emerging artists. Etro chose eleven artists and creative people from various disciplines and encourages them to discuss their ideas with one another. Alongside the traditional arts like literature, music and painting, however, he has expanded the scope of the project by including photographers, video artists, designers and a tattoo artist. You can see the artists’ portraits on the Etro homepage. If Etro has his way, the Circle of Poets will go global. BEHIND THE SCENES AT THE ETRO WORKSHOPS TO THE CIRCLE OF POETS
The craftsmanship, the passion, the perfectionism, the company values: those are the most essential criteria to make a sought-after brand. Something that you can best sense when you’re surrounded by the goings-on in the heart of the company. We have been permitted to visit the studios of the labels in the Goldenes Quartier and look over the shoulders of the creative minds who work there. Part 3 in the series: Etro.