Sunday, April 22, 2012

Fortuny: His Vintage Prints, Part 2

L-R: Melagrana a 16th C. Turkish design, no pattern name, Crosoni an 18th C. French Directoire design discontinued, no pattern name, Corone a 17th C. Italian design, all early except the fourth, 1950’s , my photo

After the First World War Fortuny’s name began to attract a much larger public rather then just the elite. In 1919 Fortuny formed a new company called Societa Anonima Fortuny and set up a factory devoted exclusively to the production of his textiles. Up until this time Fortuny was doing all the production himself of designing, producing the dyes, the colors, the machines, and making the stencils for the printing in his private studio.

Countess Elsie Lee Gozzi

Elsie McNeill, later to become Countess Elsie Lee Gozzi, was an American interior decorator that had a flair for business. In 1927 she visited the Carnavalet Museum in Paris where she first saw Fortuny’s fabrics decorating the museum and became entranced by the quality and colors of his fabrics. She then traveled to Venice and persuaded Fortuny to give her the exclusive rights to sell his goods in the United States. This lead to a fruitful and long standing friendship that was to last until Fortuny passed in 1949.

My photo, rare 1920s Fortuny original fabrics used for pillows

After Fortuny’s death it was Elsie who kept the factory going to keep up the production of fabrics. In 1957 Henriette, Fortuny’s wife, offered their home Palazzo Orfei to the city of Venice with the condition that Fortuny’s vast studio be preserved intact with all of his collections. Their home is known as the Palazzo Fortuny and is now, as you all know a museum.  It wasn’t until the 1960’s that Fortuny’s fabrics began to come into their own. Because of Elsie’s hard work his fabrics became better known in America than in Europe.

My photo, Original 1920s fabrics and a rare moorish design border

Thirty years after Fortuny’s death he had become a historical figure in the world of textile design, he had made his own life a work of art.

My photo, more 1920s Fortuny fabric designs, the bottom right pillow is an extremely rare strawberry color, all pillows for sale on my website Oreillers

Fortuny 1920 twill pillows for sale from Kathy Rousset Antiques 

Close up of the twill fabric, look at the saturated color!

Large bold 1950 Fortuny pillows made by Todd Mossman, via Cote de Texas

My photo, 1950 Fortuny fabric

Fortunys’ entrance into the world of fabrics and clothing began with his love affair with the theater. He designed huge patterns for backdrops in order to be seen from a distance. I say huge because if you look at this fabric you won’t see a pattern repeat because the pattern measures over 90” tall! While my image doesn’t show the size that center pomegranate is over two feet tall.  

My Photo, rare 1920s Fortuny fabric

This pattern while busy is also huge. That central stylized flower is bigger then my head. Fortuny still dabbled in the theater while manufacturing his textiles and today I’m happy to say his fabrics have once again entered the theater. Here's my secret....

Jonathan Rhys Meyers & Natalia Vodianova, My photo

Yes that’s right my early Fortuny fabrics and pillows were loaned out for the upcoming movie Belle Du Seigneur starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Natalia Vodianova. It’s an English-language adaptation of Albert Cohen's epic Swiss tale of a tortured love affair between a high-ranking Jewish official and the protestant wife of one of his employees. Natalia’s character Ariane collected vintage Fortuny and they were trying to keep the sets original to the book.
I don’t mind telling you that when I first saw this press release picture I was a little beside myself because the fabric is hanging SIDEWAYS! But you can see how big the pattern is behind their heads.

 My photo
Set design from the filming of the movie with my textiles and pillows.

My photo

Another set view with my pillows and Fortuny hanging in the right direction!


My post here is very basic about Fortuny and his fabrics but if you want to learn more about this very talented man and his achievements I would suggest reading about his life in this book. It’s an amazing read! And if anyone is interested in an early Fortuny pillow I’m always here to see to your needs…;)

Have an amazing week my friends and next and last up in my Fortuny series some of his silk velvets!




Splendid Sass said...

You know that I am in awe of this post! Such gorgeous fabrics. The time period between 1920 and 1960 are my favorites, and so much is just a popular now.
Now how could they hang that sideways? Let's call them, lol. So obvious, and it brings out the OCD in me!
Happy Sunday, Debra.

Fashion-isha said...

You did a great job with all that info. The fabrics are grand and gorgeous!

The enchanted home said...

Drooling over here Debra!!!!! Wow so many fabulously gorgeous textiles and pillows! I would be happy with one special piece...hummm maybe for my bday in Dec!
Love each and every one and knowing the history and labor of love behind each makes it that much more increidble. I have to get the book, I bet its an amazing treasure trove of the history of this icon. I love the noble gesture that his wife offered to keep his designs and name alive.....what a great pick me up after suffering for almost 2 full days with a miserable migraine. Happy rainy Sunday.

Kim @ French Country Antiques said...

I am so fascinated with his fabrics. I've certainly enjoyed your posts about Fortuny. You have an amazing collection.

Pura Vida said...


Anonymous said...

Beyond gorgeous!! I love period films so this is one I will have to check out. Happy Monday Debra. xo

Greet Lefèvre said...

Oh dear,
I so enjoyed your posts about Fortuny!! The most gorgeous fabric collection ever!
Have a great new week!

Thoughts on Design said...

I'm thoroughly enjoying reading your Fortuny posts. What a thrill it must be for you to see your pillows and fabrics n the big screen!!!

Looking forward to your final post.

Have a great week!


A room with a view said...

How exciting for your fabric and pillows to be used in a movie, Debra! I am sure it pained you somewhat to see the fabric used sideways. You have an amazing collection. I am amazed at the size of the patterns as you mentioned; would never have guessed.

Taylor Greenwalt said...

Debra, you have the most beautiful fabrics. Love! I am so impressed with the collection you have. And your famous, movies and everything! So cooool.

I Dream Of said...

Debra, you collection is just amazing. And how fun that your fabrics are going to be film stars! I'll definitely have to keep my eye out so I can catch the movie when it's released. I've always loved Fortuny fabrics, but your posts have made me want to know more about the man behind them.
Hope your week is as beautiful as this post! XO

therelishedroost said...

Fortuny Fabric so timeless and elegant! Love for pillows, and reupholstering small chairs! Simply Beautiful post!

Leslie said...


Great post with lots of good info here! We all love pillows and these fabrics are stunning. The blues and beige are my favorite!

Enjoy your day.


Sharon Lee Johnson said...

These fabrics are just perfection! How exciting that yours appeared in this movie. I will have to go and see it (even if they hung it sideways :)) x Sharon

Fleaing France & French Shopping Tours said...

I would have flipped out if they had hung the fabric sideways too...! Beautiful fabrics and congratulations on having them featured in the film.

designchic said...

What a gorgeous post, Debra. Love all of the wonderful fabrics and pillows, and the history is fascinating.

The French Tangerine said...

You are truly the Fortuny woman! I am so fascinated by the allure of Fortuny fabrics. I mean they kind of look alike - you can spot them anywhere, but they are truly the most beautiful fabrics out there in my opinion. I have a bright yellow fortuny couch in my living room, and it's the most spectacular thing in my house! It's the focal point in the room, and sets the mood. I inherited it from my mother-in-law, and it's such a gem.
I could put Fortuny in every room in my house.. just love it!!
Great post!

Unknown said...

I was entranced with Elsie and her role in keeping Fortuny's beautiful textiles in production. And, THEN, I see that it is your beautiful fabrics that are used in this upcoming movie (which sounds right up my alley)! You must be beside yourself!!!

And, I have to say, it's pretty funny that they hung it sideways!

Love that you shared your love of Fortuny and this fun connection with us!

Can't wait to see the movie!!!
xoxo Elizabeth

Elizabeth@ Pine Cones and Acorns said...

Hello Debra!

Yet another beautiful post on Fortuny! I am in awe at these fabrics, they are stunning. And the beautiful story of his wife and his friend bringing his fabric to America and continuing his legacy. I have to get this book, it looks fascinating.

Congratulations on your fabric and pillows staring in a movie! I love it! Very exciting.

Have a great week, thank you for sharing your Doisneau memory... I loved it.


Kat Tanita (With Love From Kat) said...

such beautiful fabrics!! thanks for sharing :)


Anonymous said...

Lovely fabrics that bring back a fun memory for me. When I was in college in the early 1960's some of my classmates and I were on a summer-long tour of Europe with the fashion design department of Stephens College. One of our visits was to the Fortuny home in Venice. We were picked up by their boat and taken to the house. The outer gates opened and we "drove" inside their own little "harbor". They had brought in boatloads of dirt, so had some lawn where we had appetizers. We had a tour of the house which was full of marble, and mirrors, though from the outside it looked as dingy as all the rest of the buildings along the water. Of course the Fortuny fabrics were used throughout the home. It is a special memory.


Barbara@HausDesign said...

I would LOVE to have some of those beautiful pillows made out of these absolutely stunning fabrics! And how exciting that some of yours will be included in that upcoming exciting, even if it is sideways. :)

Heather Robinson said...

Oh la la! I saved this post until this morning so that I could really focus on it and wow is that an amazing post! Your world is so precious and rare, Debra--I really learn a lot each time you share it with us.

And if the movie is anything as good as the novel, it will be amazing--but heart-breaking!

Paula said...

AMAZING - LOVE this post! The fabrics are so divinely beautiful. Truly breathtaking. I am still reeling from the size of the pomegranate on the 1950's Fortuny fabric - how incredible is that!

Blooming Rose Musings said...

Debra, you know that when the film is released none of us will be looking at the actors or the story...we will all be looking at the fabulous Fortuny fabrics!
You have an amazing collection and have shared a wonderful history with us. His textiles are beautiful and elegant and even when hung sideways they are still stunning! Thank you for educating all of us with your amazing Fortuny posts!

cotedetexas said...

wow,im impressed about your textiles being in a movie and it sounds sooo good, can't wait to see it. that's my maiden name, cohen!

Decor de Provence said...

WOW Debra!!! I love the fact you collect such gorgeous fabrics! I can't wait to see this movie! I'll be thinking of you and your amazing textiles! Thanks for such an inspiring post!


Mary Ann Pickett said...

Bravo! Great post and fun news. We visited the museum in Venice.

Splendid Willow said...


What a fun and educational post! I savored every single word (and image!). How incredible is that to have a movie production company contacting you for gorgeous textiles. (And good for them for going for with the real deal).

Go, Debra Go! Proud of you!

ox, Mon

Acanthus and Acorn said...

This is so insanely exciting because now your exquisite Fortuny fabrics will be immortalized for all time!!! Congrats and thanks for another wonderful post!

trouvais said...

VERY nice, Debra!! Love all the info...and your wonderful fabric ending up in all the right places! Have a wonderful weekend! Trish

Mona Thompson Providence Ltd. said...

I am loving your posts...there's a lot behind all of that beauty. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous fabrics. And on another note, I just saw your note...the frames are in our warehouse, they haven't made it to the shop yet. Have a great weekend. Mona


I am going to be reading backwards here...(pt 2 first) but I wanted to say how much I enjoyed learning these facts. Those fabrics are gorgeous and the twill one.....well let's just say I would die for those pillows. Congratulations to you and your famous pillows.

Elizabeth@ Pine Cones and Acorns said...


I had to come to tell you that because of your blog, and store you have opened my eyes to the beauty of textiles. I find myself now reading more deeply into the fine textiles used in Versailles and in France in general. I am fascinated to know how so many of these incredible pieces survived for o long.

Thank you for sharing your incredible knowledge, I would love to visit your studio someday.

Have. Wonderful Sunday, Elizabeth

Christina@greige said...

Absolutely beautiful! I love the pillows and the colors. Have a wonderful Sunday!


Karena said...

Thank you so much Debra! Those aqua twill pillows are stunning.

Your Fortuny Hanging and Pillows for the movie set, exquisite!

I have featured an Interview on my site with Tina from The Enchanted Home...


Art by Karena

Divine Theatre said...

You're famous(er)! I imagine there HAS to be at least ONE Dylan hair on that fabric...which means DYLAN is in a MOVIE! Yay! LOL!

May I have your autograph?



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