It All Begun with a Silk Scarf: The Knossos

The consecration of the name Fortuny

By Palazzo Fortuny

Model for the Knossos scarf (1910) by Mariano FortunyPalazzo 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.

Model for the Knossos scarf (1910) by Mariano FortunyPalazzo Fortuny

Logo for the Knossos scarf (1907) by Mariano FortunyPalazzo Fortuny

The Technique

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

Block for printing textiles, Mariano Fortuny, 1905, From the collection of: Palazzo Fortuny
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Block for printing textiles, Mariano Fortuny, 1905, From the collection of: Palazzo Fortuny
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Block for printing textiles, Mariano Fortuny, 1905, From the collection of: Palazzo Fortuny
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Henriette in the textile workshop (1907) by Mariano FortunyPalazzo Fortuny

Print sample, Mariano Fortuny, 1905, From the collection of: Palazzo Fortuny
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Print sample, Mariano Fortuny, 1905, From the collection of: Palazzo Fortuny
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Print sample, Mariano Fortuny, 1905, From the collection of: Palazzo Fortuny
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Print sample, Mariano Fortuny, 1905, From the collection of: Palazzo Fortuny
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Print sample (1905) by Mariano FortunyPalazzo Fortuny

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.

Print sample, Mariano Fortuny, 1905, From the collection of: Palazzo Fortuny
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Print sample, Mariano Fortuny, 1905, From the collection of: Palazzo Fortuny
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Henriette Fortuny - Portrait of a Muse, exhibition by Mariano FortunyPalazzo Fortuny

Motifs

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

Matrix for printing textiles (1910) by Mariano FortunyPalazzo Fortuny

Print samples, Mariano Fortuny, 1907, From the collection of: Palazzo Fortuny
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Print samples, Mariano Fortuny, 1907, From the collection of: Palazzo Fortuny
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Print samples, Mariano Fortuny, 1907, From the collection of: Palazzo Fortuny
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Print samples, Mariano Fortuny, 1907, From the collection of: Palazzo Fortuny
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Paris. Private event (1906) by Mariano FortunyPalazzo Fortuny

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.

Ruth St. Denis (1907) by AnonymousPalazzo Fortuny

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.

Matrix for printing textiles Matrix for printing textiles (1910) by Mariano FortunyPalazzo Fortuny

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

Photographic sequence by Mariano FortunyPalazzo Fortuny

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

Henriette dressed as a Pompeian (1935) by Mariano Fortuny y MadrazoPalazzo Fortuny

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

Display of Knossos scarves (1910) by Mariano FortunyPalazzo Fortuny

Knossos scarf, detail (1910) by Mariano FortunyPalazzo Fortuny

Logo MUVE e Marchio Fortuny, From the collection of: Palazzo Fortuny
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Credits: Story

Museo Fortuny Venezia Palazzo Orfei

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