There is curiosity and admiration towards the world in its genes; there is accumulation of years in its archive. We took a look at the spirit of Etro, whose strength is surely its designs.
Etro does this all the time. Of course there is a trademark of each fashion house and that being the case, Etro’s strength undoubtedly comes from its patterns. Since it was established in 1968 by Gerolamo Etro a textile manufacturer who applies the most complicated patterns to magnificently deluxe fabrics, they have been the right address for this practice and paisley has become their signature. This is what their last collection 2016 Resort made us recall and think. It also led to the writing of this article. Of course the catchy Kate Moss visuals of 2015 Fall/Winter campaign, photographed by her close friend and favorite photographer Mario Testino, have a share in the writing of this article, too. Because the shooting depicting Moss in the gorgeous and characteristic patterns of Etro with other patterns setting a background on the bed she’s lying, highlighted the essence of the fashion house. That’s why it achieved such a big success. Simplicity and tranquility can sometimes bring the most striking results.
If we get back to 2016 Resort, Veronica Etro, Creative Director of the brand, made a to the point summary by saying “I combined the colorful and playful patterns of one of my favorite painters Matisse with our signature paisley.” Even if she didn’t tell, the figures she created ranging from graphic lines to the most eye-catching and even flashy ones expressed this comment very well. If we were to summarise the biography of Etro briefly, we could describe 70s as the decade “it was born and made paisley its signature”, 80s as the one it got down to leather accessories and home textile products, 90s as the years it incorporated complete ready-made collections into its identity and even the years when it first participated Milano Fashion Week in 1996.
“Etro family describes fashion and textile “as an art form rather than the expression of a mood”
Functioning as a family-run business just from the beginning, Etro works the same way today. Among the four sisters and brothers, Veronica takes care of woman collections, Kean does the man, Jacopo and Ippolito are in charge of textile and accessories. By the way, Ippolito is at the same time the CEO of the company. As a continuation of this stability within the family, the classical image of Etro has never been shaken or changed through all those years: Separate pieces in glamorous patterns, shiny fabrics, unusual color combinations, ethnical references, somehow always a feminine attitude. The paisley hidden in webs or giving vitality to boho dresses, combinations completed by kimono jackets and tasseled details were quite a proof to the above mentioned stability.
The biggest role in intellectual references and also in the the strong bond between Etro and the patterns belongs to the genetic code the brand prospered on. We should start from the beginning in order to be able to tell this: Gerolamo Etro, the founder of the fashion house, is a traveler who studied economics at colllege. Since his little age, he was always extremely excited about the world feeling an unsatisfiable curiosity. He had great interest in culture and anthropology. When he decides to work in textiles, he bases his business on patterns which he can imbody the things he see in the world. He combines the existing with the imagination to create new stuff. Combining the refined, natural fabrics with vivid colors, he starts to create the style which will soon be considered the signature of Etro. At the time they renovated their headquarter in Milano in the middle of 70s, they started to collect books and artworks about fashion and textile, gradually founding a library. After that, Etro has prospered from this tradition. Moreover we know that Jacopo Etro as a child used to often visit this archive trying to copy the patterns on the fabrics and those little experiments played an essential role in finding his creative style. Likewise, it is not a coincidence that they looked for inspiration in India when they decided to get down to home textile and furnitures. Because Etro family describes fashion and textile “as an art form rather than the expression of a mood” in their own terms. Kean Etro summarises the style of their brand as “a poetic narration, which is not aggressive at all”.
Considering from this perspective, paisley suits them very well. Originally born in the land of Persian Empire, today’s Iran, being an antique and decorative pattern, paisley symbolises the date palm aka tree of life. In other words, it is not an ordinary pattern of a tree or a flower.
It all comes down to the same point: Etro does not center on the universality of trends but on art, detail and durability. Actually this is how the culture of patterns are born and why they collaborate with artists from all over the world such as Mika Ninagawa, Erik Madigan Heck and Thukral & Tagra.
That being the case, let’s end the article mentioning the insights of Etro family about this issue: “As a brand, we collect shawls and kashmirs from 18th century India, France and England. We also have the following topics in our collection: upholstery fabric, exotic textile products, Italian patterns, books from Africa, Asia and South America. When we set to work in order to create a new collection, first we take a look at our archive. Sometimes a pattern in juxtaposition with some particular colors transforms into an extraordinary thing for us, though it may make no sense to other brands. Sometimes we are inspired by the juxtaposition of contemporary artworks with classical patterns. We already have them all in our archive. We just need to interpret them with a new and creative vision.”