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“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 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.
But Claudia’s story begins, not in Italy, but in the Black Forest of Germany where she was born. At six months of age, her parents left the small town Siegen to return to Italy, to Lecce, where the rest of her family live. As a child, Claudia spent time with her aunt, a seamstress, who shared her many sartorial skills. A willing and able participant, Claudia learned to sew, embroider and crochet; she was, and is still, enthralled by the touch and feel of textiles, seduced by their colour and inspired by their natural beauty.
The 1970s economic crisis forced Claudia and her family to move again, to Turin; home to many important manufacturing companies, and a city abounding in artistic history. At 17 she enrolled in teacher’s college and threw herself into work in the artistic field.
She started by working in a print studio printing photography for numerous artists. From there she met Gruppo Miroglio who was a major player in textiles and fashion. It was a milestone event for Claudia, and a turning point, that paved the way for her to pursue a professional life in the arts.
Self-taught, and dedicated to making a difference, she learned quickly and brought her vast knowledge and talent to her first assignment in graphic arts — working on all aspects of branding — in photography, visuals and styling. Then, for the same company, she moved onto the floor, working on textile printing experimentation with the new digital technology of the time. It was at that moment, when fully engaged in all things technological, that she realised the art of printing textiles by hand was being lost forever.
At this juncture, Claudia reversed course and studied dying by hand. She plunged into time-held, traditional techniques including Shibari, the ancient Japanese form of rope tying, to salt methods, experimenting with natural dyes in powdered form, and plant-based ones too. She fine-tuned the old method of fixing steam by angling pots and began to work with paint brushes, on cotton first, and then on pure silk.
“One does not work on silk, one works with silk,” says Claudia. “Silk is a living thing; it guides you and your hands, and together in spiritual union, thousands of colour shades emerge. The designs that come to bear stem from “her” essence; they are an abstract interpretation of emotion, gathered, stored daily, or along many voyages. A flower, a face, a wall, a wave…every subject is conceived, expressed through an exquisite combination of colour shades, sometimes strong and vibrant, other times, delicate and soft, but never banal or commonplace.”
A relationship so heartfelt, respectful and intense cannot help but create wraps, scarves, foulards, and tunics that enchant everyone from discerning clients to overly demanding art gallerists.