Qollezione_02 was baked in the oven of a Stube, in the most important room of Tyrolean houses, where life meddles with liturgy; in the same environment that, since the Middle Ages, has been a shelter for tired farmers, a kitchen for family gatherings, a knitting room for women, a playground for children, a bedroom for servants, a smoking room for local nobility and a chapel for vigils in honour of the deceased. A material portrait of the people inhabiting it, the Stube always includes a number of staple elements: a central stove, simple or embellished with tiles, an Eckbank, a bench running along the stove, a large table oriented to the South for a longer exposure to light, numerous cushions, covers and cloths knit by the women of the household and an altar for prayer.
Qollezione_02 transfers the intimacy of century-old rituals from within the stone pine walls of the Stube to the cotton cocoon of its clothes. The sacred and the profane meet in fashion like they do at the feet of an altar in the Stube, where private and public, concealed and revealed, religious and superstitious all come together. This new line strengthens the ties with Tyrolean history and further refines the practice endemic to Qollezione: the collection of redesigned traditions.
The altar, in particular, is where collected objects are gathered and used for the recollection of memories and the production of new ones. Crammed with crosses, ex-voto, holy pictures and other paraphernalia, this corner of the room is dressed with tablecloths embroidered by women with well-wishing texts, seeking grace after a loss or illness and expressing gratitude for prosperity and the preservation of health. Qollezione_02 draws on two of these elements: the votive phrases and the fabrics of cushions and tablecloths. Inside every cotton sweater, a webbing strap with the message ‘Live Long and Prosper’ reinterprets the use of well-wishers, designed for us by Massimiliano Mariz. The fabrics of cushions and tablecloths, instead, are employed for the production of Qollezione’s cotton sweaters, transforming the private symbolism into a wearable experience.
Spun, woven and dyed since ancient times, cotton is a wondrous soft, fluffy fibre. It grows in protective cases surrounding the seeds of shrubs and it can be turned into a sheer variety of objects: bedding, tablecloths, furniture, art and of course, clothes.
To put a new spin on traditional Tyrolean knitwear, Qollezione joins forces with the artistic weaving mill Franz. This family-run business has been ahead of the game since the nineteenth-century, when the founder Josef Franz, was one of the first to pioneer the use of Jacquard over heddle looms. Forced to abandon his native Sudetenland, Franz moved first to Stegen and then to Bruneck around 1900, where the mill has woven magic ever since. Josef’s futuristic mind developed innovative designs for patterned textiles, made with the finest wool, linen and cotton yarns. After Josef turned Bruneck into a small cottonopolis, it was up to the younger generations to spread the clatter of warping machines across the world. Needle(ss) to say they made it because all of the fabulously flattering Franz’s fits are a labour of love!
[photo 1 + 2: Alfred Erardi, courtesy Museum Ladin, photo 3: Jasmine Deporta, photo 4: courtesy Kunstweberei Franz]
THE BLAUER SCHURZ
Dazzling summer days, misty wintery mornings. Regardless of the season, a tireless blue figurine travels across the landscape, up and down the ridge of hills, inside and outside of fog banks hanging low on the crops. What you see is a South Tyrolean farmer wearing his blauer Schurz: the bright blue apron, the cloth shield of women and men working in the fields.
Versatile since the very beginning, in the Middle Ages, the Schurz was worn to protect clothes whilst also serving as a pouch, a tissue, a seed tray and a symbol expressing one’s belonging to a specific professional category. Usually constituted of two parts, a « Firtig » or frontal tissue, and a « Brüstl » or rectangular cloth, until the 19th century, Schurzen were handmade of white linen. Cotton was only first adopted at the start of the past century, when a change in material mirrored one in colour: white turned into blue.
In South Tyrol, the Blauer Schurz is an everyday staple for men from 5 up to 95 years of age. Given as a present on the first day of school, each Schurz is decorated with embroidered symbols, words or images. The Schurz is also worn during Sunday Mass and on market days to strengthen one's cultural roots socially.
Taking its cue from the role of the Schurz as a garment of the mind rather than the body, Qollezione’s first pieces, designed in South Tyrol and entirely made in Italy, reinvent the linearity of the traditional apron. Characterised by the iconic blue colour, every piece in the collection has a unique durability. Over time, cloth adapts itself to the shapes of the body it clothes, as a second skin it sloughs off colour and changes in shade, only to rise from tradition to contemporary eternity. 70 centimeters in height, bordered by a red and white selvage, each fragment of Schurz dresses bodies and gears human geographies, wrapping the figure with the fabric of local history.
Legend has it that every woman living in South Tyrolean lodges, knits symbols, drawings and love messages on her husband’s Schurz. Grafted onto such love tradition, the minimalistic signs embroidered on Qollezione’s limited pieces by the visual designer and creative director Massimiliano Mariz from Studio Typeklang, transform a spontaneous practice dictated by feelings into a contemporary product rooted in the old stamping ground of South Tyrolean history.