It All Begun with a Silk Scarf: The Knossos

Palazzo Fortuny

The consecration of the name Fortuny

The first creation in the clothing sector, and one that made famous the name of Mariano Fortuny as textile and clothing designer, was a printed silk taffeta scarf: the Knossos.

This shawl – reminiscent in form of the Greek himation or Indian sari – was rectangular and of considerable size: 450 cm long by 110 cm wide.

The Technique
High levels of craftsmanship, experimentation, and innovation is what made Fortuny's first creation an immediate success.

The Fortuny Museum keeps some print samples on paper showing the patterns used by Fortuny for his first scarves: papyrus flowers, heart-shaped palms, stylized flowers and argonauts.

The Knossos boasted early-Corinthian, Cretan, Minoan and Greek decorative motifs, derived from vase painting.

The first Knossos scarf prototypes could be seen on occasion of the ballet for the opening of Countess of Béarn’s private theater, in Paris, on the 29th of March 1906.

After some months of intense experimentation on textiles, colours and the most peculiar motifs, Mariano and Henriette finally realised 15 different models of the Knossos. The presentation took place in Berlin, on the 24th November 1907, featuring Ruth St. Denis showing the audience how to wear the refined scarves.

Names apparently extracted from a magic formula book came to identify each Knossos scarf model: “Alblan”, “Aldou”,“Algan”, “Alro”, “Gandou” and “Tilleul”.

In its versatility the Knossos could be worn in several ways, like a headdress or a gown, or softly wrapped around the body.

Thus attired, Henriette was immortalised by Fortuny in a large painting entitled Portrait in Pompeian Costume .

Credits: Story

Museo Fortuny Venezia Palazzo Orfei

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