Graziano Ricami’s New-wave Embroidery

Galleria Giordani is the ambitious offshoot of parent company Graziano Ricami, the Italian couture fabric expert famous for its out-of-this-world embroidery techniques.

We caught up with proprietor Antonio Giordani to find out how this family-owned company established its reputation in the rarified world of haute couture—even after the 2016 earthquake that decimated the factory—and what motivated him to create the gallery?

We understand that the Giordani Gallery owes its existence to Graziano Ricami, which is famous for high-fashion fabrics based on beautiful embroideries. What motivated you to open the gallery?
There are two reasons for our decision to open Galleria Giordani. The first is about product diversification: after thirty years in business, we were looking for new inspirations, and we decided to apply our embroidery expertise to design. The second, and even more important, reason is our dream of protecting and developing local craftsmen and women; they contribute their extraordinary skills to creating products based on innovative modern design, but rooted in the discipline and beauty of fine craftsmanship. We were looking to stimulate employment growth.

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Do you come from an artistic background? Did you study any of the arts? How did it happen that you entered the rarified world of embroidery and couture textiles?
The business was set up by my resourceful father Graziano—he made sacrifices for many years, and by relying on his innate creative talent, he was able to carve out a place for our embroidery in the 1990s’ Italian prêt-à-porter fashion industry by investing in R&D and quality. First, he was succeeded by my brother Adriano, a graduate of economics and management; then I also joined the company management as a textile engineering graduate. We’ve given the Graziano Ricamian international feel, and it has an established position on the global fashion scene. Everything under supervision of my mom Silvana.

We’re intrigued by the idea that embroidery can be applied to non-textile surfaces such as stone—is the process particularly complex?
The power of our design projects stems from cooperation with artists from the world of art and crafts. We embroider surfaces such as stone and aluminium, each time searching for innovative systems to develop precious and unique objects, and avoiding commonplace solutions.

The Graziano Ricami factory was completely destroyed by the earthquake of 2016, and you have rebuilt it in the same area—we salute your fearlessness and optimism. It’s an affirmation of your respect for the expertise of the artisans who create your products. How much production time did you lose due to this traumatic incident?
We are extremely proud of the fact that we managed to overcome the effects of the earthquake within four months. It hit our region in October 2016 and completely destroyed the interior and exterior wall panels of the factory. We immediately assembled a team of experts to assess the critical issues. They came up with a design that turned the supporting frame of the factory into an anti-seismic structure using an Italian engineering solution that’s exported to the other countries at risk of earthquakes. If we had relocated our business, it would have meant further social issues for the area, which had already been seriously affected by the catastrophe and by economic crisis. Not only that, we were able to fulfil our production orders—including for the New York, London, Milan and Paris Fashion Week shows—without any delays. In fact, our customers didn’t even realise how the earthquake had affected us.

What prompted the creation of the stunning Lutjanus Fulgens (Golden African Snapper) displayed at Cannes Yachting Festival? Was it commissioned as a decorative artwork for a specific yacht, or is it purely a showpiece?
Taking part in this outstanding international yachting event was a first-time experience for us. We wanted to contribute with our interpretation of a fish, which is an emblem of the ocean. The design concept, developed together with architect Riccardo Diotallevi, was created as a decorative idea for yachts, as well as other types of furnishing. With the help of metalworkers, carpenters and upholsterers, we created a steel-and-wood modular system that can be used for room partitions, ceilings, walls, and double walls. Special thanks are due to Swarovski, our long-standing partner and a symbol of worldwide excellence and uniqueness, represented in Italy by Mr Marcolli and his wonderful team.

What kind of textiles, threads and Swarovski crystals were used to create Lutjanus Fulgens? It recreates the way fish scales shimmer with graduated iridescence beautifully. Was it technically difficult?
First we created the embroidery using a mix of special shimmering yarn from Japan combined with matte ceramic yarn. Eventually, we added several hundred thousand stones, fully hand-sewn, which gave the special three-dimensional look to the fish scales and fins. It was painstaking, thorough work—we were aiming for perfection.