After the story of the military cloth, here’s another story from Lanificio Paoletti’s history, which — as is often the case — also came out of the memory of people long part of our company.
This story is still shrouded in mystery, based on just a few clues. But, nonetheless, it has already resulted in some great ideas, as well as a wonderful joint project with Venice’s University IUAV. Because it’s quite a long story, we decided to break it up into two “episodes” — first, the historic part and then the part that has to do with the present and the new project. Enjoy!
It at all started one day when some of the “elders” or our company family were chatting and mentioned that they remembered that long ago at the wool mill there was a Spanish designer.
This sparked a search through our enormous archive. When we looked through the samples, something very interesting turned up. In the 1937–1938 archives, there was a sample with a style completely different from everything that came before (and maybe everything that came after).
We were all awed by its insane colors and structures, so different from what was made at the time. At the bottom was written the name of a certain “Amerigo Giovanni Paloma”. We found the same name in the record book, of the employees of the time.
Now we can say that this mysterious figure managed to change Lanificio Paoletti’s production and history. Before him fabric production was based only on the idea of practicality — fabrics were to serve the purpose of protecting from the cold. In the 1920s, wool was mainly requested by religious orders and the military.
Then this eccentric character came to the wool mill and we started to see completely different types of samples. First there were the colors. They had been mainly brown, blue and gray, and now there was suddenly much more experimentation with unusual colors, almost like optical effects! They were definitely on the cuttingedge for the time. There’s even a fluorescent pink fabric.
There were changes in technical terms too. The weave grew wider, the yarns are looser, with more space between them, and it was crafted in amazing ways.
We never found out his whole story, but he must have worked in a textile company before. It would be fascinating to find out how a designer was trained in Spain in that era. At any rate, he obviously left Spain at some point (maybe fleeing the Franco regime?) and came to Veneto.
But it’s not clear exactly which year he arrived. According to the memories of the Paoletti family, an elderly aunt says that Paloma came in the ’30s, and Mr. Guglielmo Toffolatti, our former sample machinist, says it was 1938. This is why it isn’t that easy to understand if the sample is his or not. But the style is so different and so unique, it is clear that there was a major break with all the previous work. This can only be explained by the entrance of an “exotic” element — just as a Spanish designer who came to Italy in the 1930s would have been.
The new generations of the Paoletti family — especially Paolo — love this story. They went to look through all the documentation, including the correspondence for orders about that sample (even then they kept track of communication with wholesalers who ordered a certain product).
This is how a piece of paper with a sample emerged, bearing the word “espigato“, a bit of Spanishized Italian. The sheet was dated October 1938 (and some others were found with funny words somewhere between Italian and Spanish).
Paolo Paoletti and his father also found the employee log of the company, in which Paloma was registered as a designer starting in 1938. We even know that he had a wife and two children, enrolled in Follina’s schools.
Maybe he really had escaped from Franco’s regime or maybe he came to Italy long before and was only recorded later, who knows why. Maybe Paloma wasn’t even really his name…The plot thickens. But what is sure is that there is a name in the records with two contracts and two samples that are definitely his. One has no date, but you can tell it’s his style, and the other is dated 1937 – 1938. Another thing is sure: his unique, groundbreaking style truly made its mark.
That’s the end of the history part. In the next post, we’ll find out what happened with this story in the present.