Fondazione Antonio Ratti

The Silk Gardens of Como. Textiles, Fashion, and Botany

11 July–11 October 2015
FAR – Villa Sucota, Villa Bernasconi

The Silk Gardens of Como. Textiles, Fashion, and Botany were the leitmotifs of the Silk Gardens exhibition. Fabrics, clothes, and botany of the Larian territory, organized by the Antonio Ratti Foundation (FAR) and by the Municipality of Cernobbio.

The exhibition, curated by Margherita Rosina and Francina Chiara, held at Villa Sucota in Como and at Villa Bernasconi in Cernobbio, explored the theme of the fabric-botany relationship from the eighteenth century to the present day through the different aspects of floral decoration. The natural beauty of the Larian area, the parks, and gardens overlooking the lake have always been a subject much loved by creatives and artists, who over the centuries have drawn continuous suggestions and the silk industry that has developed in Como since the end of the Nineteenth-century did not escape this fascination.

The floral textiles from the collections of the Antonio Ratti Foundation, from important private collections, and from the historical archives of the silk industries of Lake Como were exhibited along a path divided into thematic "rooms"; in the first part of the exhibition: Lyonnais baroque silks in which flowers and architectural elements intertwine, aerial taffetas decorated with branches of roses or berries, pieces of cotton for furnishings with realistic floral triumphs from the second half of the nineteenth century.

The second part of the exhibition was dedicated to the textiles of the twentieth century, a century that marks the development of the Como silk factories, suppliers of haute couture, and Italian and French prêt-à-porter. In the sections, textiles with themes related to garden products or decorated with medicinal herbs were displayed, while an entire hall featured dresses and textiles inspired by roses, one of the most loved by the textile decorations of every era. The textiles were combined with dresses connected to the theme, which for the twentieth century were chosen to represent Italian Haute Couture, from Biki to Capucci, Ferré, Valentino, Parisian Haute Couture with Dior and Yves Saint Laurent, and prêt- international à-porter with Ken Scott and Leonard.

For the first time, a selection of tables from the Fabani herbarium was presented to the public, on loan from the Fondazione Centro Studi Nicolò Rusca of Como: an extraordinary collection of about 3000 tables of herbs and plants collected at the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries by Giuseppe Fabani, the municipal doctor of Cernobbio.

Also on display were some works of contemporary art by artists who have attended the CSAV - Artists' Research Laboratory of the Antonio Ratti Foundation: another way of telling how the botanical theme could be a source of inspiration for artistic creation.

A rich program of collateral initiatives related to greenery, art, and fabrics accompanied the exhibition with the involvement of local institutions.

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