The feeling, as you cross the threshold of Venetia Studium, is that you have entered into a painting by Alma Tadema, a chapter of “A Rebours” by Joris-Karl Huysmans, the entrance of the Vittoriale as it was recalled in the richly imaginative description of the vate, the poet-prophet, as you breathe in the decadent elegance of the Belle Époque as it is recalled in the unique description of Venice in “Fuoco” by Gabriele D’Annunzio. the opportunity to breathe in the allure and elegance of the Fortuny period is a privilege that has been bestowed upon Venice and the enthusiast of times gone by thanks to the sophisticated commercial and cultural operation launched by Venetia Studium.
IN SEARCH OF LOST TIME
In The Prisoner By Marcel Proust, the narrator/protagonist asks Albertine to parade in front of him wrapped up or draped in one of these cloths, like a model, for his erotic and aesthetic satisfaction.
Visitors can admire the whole collection of pleated silk and silk damask velvet wares in the showroom located in the heart of Venice: the collection has been handcrafted strictly according to tradition, and include: cushions, pochettes, handbags, mantillas, stoles and clothes. A pleasure for the eyes but also for the heart that, thanks to the Lando family and to Venetia Studium, is renewed day after day in this unique corner of the world that is Venice.
This revival of the traditional precious silks is to be credited to the Venetian Lino Lando who, together with Venetia Studium, has accomplished his personal aspiration of giving body and soul to the essence of Venice: elegance, style and a touch of vanity. Lando has not only rekindled an atmosphere of past times but has also cleverly and rather generously decided to continue his activity in the lagoon city, rejecting the idea that the only and easiest way forward is to relocate onto the mainland to cut the high costs required for production in Venetia Studium. The company managed by Lando and sons, has its production units in the former Colussi biscuit factory on Cannaregio and in the former Rubelli at Madonna dell’Orto. The revamping of these two historical industrial buildings is proof, once again, of how business does have the opportunity to remain Venice, so long as there is the will to do so, even if the price is dictated by sacrifice and a considerable but not inaccessible financial outlay. The two production units, located respectively in Cannaregio and Madonna dell’Orto, host the tailoring department and the lamps decoration department. Counting almost one hundred employees and four venetian shops, Venetia Studium has extended its range of influence beyond the Channel, and now owns a rather elegant sales point in London’s Beauchamp Place.
An aesthete, Lino Lando is a keen admirer of art in its every form and loves his city to the extent of wanting to turn it into a production city, launched on the international market, but with a very special trump to its advantage: the preciously handcrafted lamps inspired by a maniac-like care for detail that characterized the works of a great artist like Fortuny. On the workplace, in addition to Lino, the family includes his sons Luca and Matteo, all of whom set store to an old wise saying whereby beauty is the fruit of lengthy time, care and passion for each tiny detail. It is a passion that Lino Lando has cultivated since being a young boy, when he used to visit the Fortuny Museum and would stop, enchanted, to contemplate the fascinating arabesques traced by the Spanish scene artist. Each detail of the beautiful atelier of Venetia Studium in via XXII Marzo in the sestiere of St.Mark’s, speaks the elegant and careful language of fin de siècle. Venetia Studium occupies an area of over 3,300 square meters in the historical centre and apart from its own articles, it restores original period Fortuny lamps and clothes. Each detail is analyzed and executed in accordance with the masterful knowledge of an eclectic Lino Lando who, having carefully studied the times of Mariano Fortuny, decided, back in 1984, to reconstruct a corner of decadent historical fascination by founding Venetia Studium which has in the meantime become a reliable brand for experts and refined connoisseurs of Fortuny lamps, and pleated silk and velvet fashion accessories. Venetia Studium is a treasure trove, from fashion accessories that are a blend of all the colors of the rainbow creating new chromatic ranges, to the celebrated “Delphos” tunic, a sort of universal outfit tailored in unique pieces that are exclusively made to order in the laboratories of Venetia Studium. Fabulous and extremely delicate clothes in pleated silk are ordered from all over the world to satisfy the vanity of women, perhaps just to be worn for less than one hour at a cocktail party. Patiently and meticulously, Lino lando prepares these works of art, impalpable as butterfly’s wings, and will even take care of mending any possible cleaning inconvenience. Venetia Studium’s customers are real enthusiasts and do not hesitate to send their items to Lando’s studio from the other side of the world just for repairs. With the familiar friendliness and attention for which he is famous, Lino will work patiently and without delay to satisfy celebrity vanities. The pride of Venetia Studium are the famous lamps designed by Fortuny at the beginning of 1900s now become, thanks to the Lando family, a worldwide registered trademark. The item that is most popular amongst his international clientele is a small lamp called Cesendello that is characterized by a silk covered spiral form recalling the twisting Arab turbans, encompassing Fortuny’s cherished Oriental and Renaissance themes.
The inventor of neo-Renaissance
Mariano Fortuny (1871 – 1949). Son of a Spanish painter, he married the sister of Reynaldo Hahn. Painter, set designer and photographer, he was also a renowned innovator.
Amongst the first to experiment with colored slides, he realized photographic portraits and natural landscapes, upturned traditional theatre scenery art at the Fenice of Venice and in other theatres, transformed the stage illumination systems and staged the whole Wagnerian Nibelungen cycle in a single event. In Venice he used to live in Palazzo Orfei, now hosting the museum.
Fortuny operated what can be called a real resurrection of authentic ancient Greek costumes that he designed for Isadora Duncan based on original models. He took inspiration also from the oriental dsigns of Medieval tapestries and Venetia Renaissance paintings for his materials, his stage costumes and fashion garments.
It is the stage costumes and apparel that afford hem the primary role he is assigned by Marcel Proust in his Recherche, as, in his novel, he recalls “dresses and gown … tailored by Fortuny based on ancient Venetia designs. It is perhaps their historical character, or perhaps the fact that each piece is unique, that provides them with such a singular character that the bearing of the woman who wears them, as she wait or talks to us, feigns such extraordinary importance, as though that gown were the fruit of long deliberation, as though the conversation were detached from ordinary life like a scene from a novel?”.
A fin de siècle portrait from The Prisoner by Marcel Proust of the ancient manufacture and refined elegance embodied by Fortuny’s garments.
Text by Antonella Benanzato