The Unfolding of Mariano Fortuny

The Narrative Within

What is a pleat other than a fold.  And what is a fold other than the combination of order and flexibility.

Pleats have been around for a long time. They were around in ancient Egypt and continued to be used throughout history. Just think of Mary Stuart’s famous pleated collar, the Scottish kilt, and the Greek fustanella .

Textiles of the past were coarse and thus more difficult to fold.  Now synthetic fabrics make pleating much easier for contemporary fashion designers.  One such designer is Issey Miyake who loves pleats so much he’s even named a perfume  in their honor.

Miyake Like Pleats

But the most successful pleated dress of all times is that of Mariano Fortuny, the “Delphos” dress.

The son of a well-known Spanish artist, Fortuny was born in Granada in 1871. His family was wealthy enough to permit him to study and travel. At the age of 18, he moved permanently…

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Intaglio Top

Intaglio Top

Intaglio is the process of cutting away material to create a design. The term in generally used referring to a type of woodworking. However, it’s also a term used in Italy in reference to a kind of embroidery where cut-outs have been made on a piece of fabric and the edges of the remaining fabric are embroidered. If you are interested in seeing images of this beautiful art form, look up “ricamo intaglio”.

I like the peek-a-boo aspect of intaglio embroidery placed on top of another fabric. But I am somewhat lazy and came up with a rather folkloristic approach of my own. I cut leftover white fabric into squares then folded these square as one does to make paper snowflakes then cut away. Then I sewed these “snowflakes” onto a repurposed black top. The top was too short for my tastes so I added a colourful piece of fabric to give it extra length.

Anthy’s Purse

Paros, Waiting for Take Off

Many of us makers get enthused about a project then, at a certain point, the thrill is gone and the project gets abandoned. My friend Jo says they’re called UFOs, UnFinished Objects. Maybe one way to get them finished is to give them to somebody else.

My friend Anthy gave me an unfinished purse. It was beautifully crocheted and merited special attention. The hard part was done and all I had to do was add a handle and maybe some embellishment.  I made a handle by covering a piece of rope with scrap material and attached it with crocheted stitches. And for a bit of flare, I added some gathered trim from an unused skirt around the bottom edge.

This summer I finished the text and layout for my graphic essay about growing older (almost 200 pages!). Afraid that my suitcase could get lost at the airport, I decided to carry it with me. Because we travel with our cat, I needed something I could carry easily. on my shoulder. So I brought my manuscript with me inside of Anthy’s purse. It made me feel so poetic.

Athen's Airport

At the Athens Airport with Anthy’s Purse

Volver and the Manuscript

Volver and the unfinished manuscript


Porta Portese Briefcase

Porta Portese Briefcase

About 25 years ago, I bought this briefcase at Porta Portese, Rome’s famous Sunday flea market. At the time, it was obviously used and an ugly colour of brown. This year I finally decided to give it a make-over and painted it with bright coloured flowers. It’s used mainly to transport my drawings to and from the studio.

I love color because it let’s me be happy and wild!