Luigi Bevilacqua weaves fabrics for haute couture

zsometimes it hangs by a thread whether a project will succeed. Thousands of silk threads tear every day at the Luigi Bevilacqua textile factory in Venice. All the more fascinating is the naturalness with which the young women tie and process torn threads on the looms. There is a concentrated silence in the fabbrica, the weaving mill, which is broken by the chatter of the jacquard machines and the chatter of the heavy wooden posts. Inch by inch In the heart of the lagoon city – the workshop is not far from the Rialto Bridge – valuable velvet and brocade fabrics are semi-processed. In the large hall in the Santa Croce district, where the sun shines through the skylights, you have the feeling that time has stood still. The overstuffed steel archive and wooden equipment reach to the ceiling: a spinning machine, a huge vertical thread machine and closely spaced looms.

What looks like relics from a bygone era is used every day. This is also apparent from the yarns, rollers and the many vertical and horizontal threads that run over and into each other in the looms. Emanuele Bevilacqua, who has acquired the necessary know-how, ensures that the factory is in good condition in the 21st century. The grandson of the founding family, who bought the equipment for a silk weaving mill in the Castello district in 1875 and who has kept it to this day, takes care of the 24 looms that still exist, which are used alternately.


In the morning you will meet workers like Gloria d’Este at the looms.
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Image: Barbara Klemm

From childhood

A weaving mill in a distinguished neighborhood between patrician palaces and churches, squares and canals? From the Corte, a small forecourt, immerse yourself in times gone by. In the 16th century, when the international silk trade was booming, there were numerous weaving mills in the city. Bevilacqua is the last remaining factory in the former Republic of the Lions.

It is thanks to the entrepreneurial courage and perseverance of the family that this craft has survived in Venice. Two decades ago, with the threat of closure due to the aging of the weavers, young workers such as Gloria d’Este could be trained. The Venetian had just graduated from the secondary art school Istituto d’Arte and had been training for three years. The weavers, some of whom had been involved from childhood, introduced them orally to the technique, which has not been handed down in writing. For a long time, Gloria d’Este just watched, because weaving requires not only a lot of physical effort, but also the highest precision. A wrong cut cannot be corrected and will ruin the entire pattern.

The showroom and weaving mill can be visited on request.


The showroom and weaving mill can be visited on request.
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Image: Barbara Klemm

The fact that some young women were able to become enthusiastic about the profession around the turn of the millennium is certainly also due to the good working conditions. Weaving takes only half a day, the rest of the working time is spent on its preparation. It takes several weeks for the threads to be clamped in a loom. Depending on the desired fabric density, the number varies between 400 and 1600 thread lines. But the weavers also thread threads, transfer designs to punched cards and instruct interested parties. For the craft that has been handed down in Venice for six centuries, they are guardians of a secret knowledge and part of a unique total work of art. Gloria d’Este explains that she has no male colleagues, saying that previous applicants lacked stamina.

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