What we’re looking for is a shade of pink that has a touch of orange, a pink that evokes spring dew, but also autumn leaves and crisp winter cold. What we want is a Mantero pink, one of the infinite shades of silk that blossom on the looms of this extraordinary company, an Italian style icon and a loyal partner for luxury brands across the globe for 120 years. The story of Mantero is akin to that of a silk thread – it begins life as a raw, unfinished fiber, but one that promises great things to come with its incredibly luminous, resilient character. It was 1902 and Riccardo Mantero had just left Novi Ligure to move to Como, which had already earned a reputation across Europe for the quality of its silk production. Riccardo made his living buying and reselling textiles, and his dedication to the trade eventually reaped rewards when Riccardo laid the foundation stone for his historic headquarters in 1922. The building still stands in the center of Como today, though it no longer serves as a combination residence and workshop as it did then, with his apartment on the first floor and workers toiling away downstairs. “1940 was a major turning point, when my great-grandfather inaugurated the first industrial weaving mill,” recalls Lucia Mantero, the fourth generation to work in the family firm and its current product development manager. “During those tumultuous times, legend has it we even wove silk for military parachutes. His two sons had just joined the company, but it was really my grandfather – a bona fide entrepreneur – who sensed that postwar France, deprived of the industrial hub destroyed in the bombing of Lyon, would become his most important target market. And he was right: The great haute couture designers of France, Dior, Chanel and then YSL, are still among our top customers,” Lucia remembers.
Remembering is a very important verb in the Mantero lexicon. Remembering, for example, the extravagance of hand-drawn designs, even in our digital age. It was quite emotional to see first-hand the eighty-meter printing tables on which the white fabric is stretched, where loom after loom, step after step, a beautiful scarf is born. Each one a masterpiece of different hues selected by the in-house “variantista”, a virtuoso in the art of color and variants who selects as many as thirty different shades of yarn for a single scarf. Remembering, for this beacon of craftsmanship, also means dedicating an entire floor of the Grandate headquarters to the Mantero archives, one of the most important textile archives in the world with more than 10,000 swatch books, 60,000 scarves by legendary designers as well as thousands of hand-drawn designs, test prints, textile patterns, plain and jacquard prints.
Remembering can also be a source of inspiration. We felt extremely privileged to have an opportunity to leaf through Mantero’s many treasures, among them the catalog of Holliday & Brown, for instance, a legendary London-based brand founded in 1926, whose ascots and ties were sought after by gentlemen across the globe for their original prints and bold colors. “In 2002, we acquired the brand and with it, its sartorial heritage in the form of the archive. That led to a special Holliday & Brown London Re-edit we issued for PRADA. The past is always a source of inspiration for tomorrow,” Lucia Mantero continues. At the turn of the century, Montero managed to acquire a collection of 18th century kimonos, among other prestigious acquisitions for the archive, and then two years ago, in 2019, the marvelous Ken Scott collection: everything from sketches, drawings and portraits to photographs, apparel, furnishings, bijoux, glasses, in addition to many foulards and clothing fabrics.
But there is also another way of remembering, by honoring one’s own past, one’s own energy, one’s own imagination. “That is how the Mantero 1902 collection came about, born of a desire to delve deep into the archive and create our own line of silk accessories and apparel,” Lucia reports. “In this intense process of looking inward we also rediscovered old friends, chief among them the Grand Hotel Tremezzo. After all, we are exactly the same age, both born at the start of the 20th century in the slice of paradise that is Lake Como, and both passionate advocates of authentic Italian tradition and ingenuity.” For our Sense of Lake boutique, Mantero 1902 designed a scarf in one of the archive’s most classic prints – a bouquet of flowers and butterflies – reinterpreted in the signature orange shade of the Grand Hotel Tremezzo. They also designed another accessory that is as beguiling as it is versatile: The Silkroad Tiara, a unique combination of the Grand Hotel Tremezzo scarf, already a classic by Mantero, and the must for Bleutiful Milano, the headband. It’s a tiara, of course, but also a headpiece and a necklace perfect for special occasions, with embellishments in golden lurex thread. Let’s wear it together in an act of mutual remembering. Remembering these halcyon days.