Claudia F by Claudia Franco
“I am the daughter of immigrants from Lecce, simple people, tireless workers blessed with the gift of love and living with love.” This is how Claudia Franco, designer and creative director of her namesake brand Claudia F introduces herself.
She has a reserved pride veiled by a certain melancholy and mystery. Her beauty is subtle, her behaviour is poised, even noble, and her mane of dark hair coupled with exalting dark eyes reveals her southern Italian origins.
Claudia’s story, however, does not begin in Italy, but in the Black Forest where she draws her first breath. At six months of age her parents leave Germany to reunite with the family in Apulia. As a child Claudia spends much time with her beloved aunt, a seamstress who teaches her how to sew, embroider and crochet on textiles that soon become her passion.
The 1970s-economic crisis forces Claudia’s family to relocate to Turin; a manufacturing hub and a city awash with artistic history. At seventeen she enrolls in teacher’s college focusing on the arts, and soon lands a job in a studio printing photography for numerous artists. From there a chance meeting with Gruppo Miroglio, a major player in textiles and fashion paves the way for the future creative director of Claudia F to pursue a professional life in her preferred field.
Motivated, eager and determined to make a difference Claudia pushes herself to be the best putting to good use her acquired knowledge and experience, first on a graphic arts assignment. Then she plunges into textile printing where she experiments with digital technology. It was at this point that Claudia F senses that the very technology she is mastering is putting at risk the time-held art of printing textiles manually.
Claudia F changes course. She learns how to dye textiles the old-fashioned way. She studies techniques like Shibari, the ancient Japanese form of rope tying, and leans into salt methods. She experiments with natural dyes, she learns how to steam by angling pots, and starts to use paint brushes, first on cotton, and then on pure silk.
“One does not work on silk, one works with silk,” says Claudia of Claudia F. “Silk is a living thing; it guides you and your hands, and from this surreal, spiritual union emerge endless shades of colour. The designs, a narrative of abstract renderings of emotion stored, gathered, captured, they too stem from silk’s rich essence. A flower, a face, a wall, a wave…every subject is conceived, expressed through an exquisite palette of hues – some strong, vibrant, others delicate and soft, but never banal or commonplace.”
The process of making a scarf begins when Claudia spreads the pongee silk onto a frame, and in a contemplative mood lovingly choreographs the canvas using a brush, a sponge, a roller, and, of course, the finest of tools, her nimble skilled hands. Naturally hypoallergenic water colours transform the blank canvas into a kaleidoscope of breathtaking shades enhanced by the marbling effects of salt, and immortalised by steam. The nascent painted silk scarf is then washed and ironed, and again spread on a frame to rest. Remember silk is a living fibre!
A magical transformation occurs, an astounding work of art with a dash of panache comes to be. The scarf’s “lightness of being” embraced in its silkiness exalts a sense of self, and style. For Claudia, a finished scarf means her noble mission to enrich life with beauty is complete. She says, “I thank life itself for the art of living with love, in all her aspects”.
Claudia’s deep connection with silk is at the core of Claudia F’s magnificently coloured wraps, scarves, and foulards. A longtime resident of Milan she delights in creating an exclusive line for The Italian Collection (TIC). And, of course, we are thrilled to be presenting her hand painted scarves in pongee silk from the finest weavers in Como.