Lucia Costantini has been a merlettaia her entire life, breathing new life into the ancient patterns that have been repeated for five centuries. Originally, the lace craft developed in the aristocratic milieu of Venice, thanks to the manual dexterity of the noble women; Burano island became then famous for the merletto, the intricate art of small knots made with thread. “The parakeet perched on a clothesline symbolises the joyful Italian practice of hanging clothes to dry above the streets,” says the designer India Mahdavi. After making a line drawing of the design on paper and layering it with tracing paper on top and three layers of butchers’ paper underneath, Costantini sews the outline of the structure using a Singer treadle machine, in order to make the slow, even stitches that will form the anchors of her needlework.
Both Mahdavi and Costantini use colour for their respective work: Lucia was a pioneer in introducing different shades in lace making. For this project, though, they decided to use the traditional white of Burano lace. Mahdavi’s design is a patchwork of textile patterns inspired by her True Velvet collection of fabric prints for Maison Pierre Frey. Costantini invented a stitch based on the diaper pattern of white Istrian stone and rose-coloured Verona marble seen on the facade of the Doge’s Palace in Venice. “I continue to study, work and design in the hope that lace makers will not be seen as ‘hands that make lace’, but as artistic professionals with creative minds,” Constantini says. “This is precisely the concept I see in Doppia Firma: for the very first time, the lace maker has been placed on equal footing with the designer.”