“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 roots. Claudia’s story, however, does not begin in Italy, but in the Black Forest of Germany where she was born.
At six months of age her parents leave small town Siegen to return to Lecce in southern Italy where the family lives. As a child Claudia spends time with her beloved aunt, a seamstress, who shares her many sartorial skills. A willing and able participant she learns how to sew, embroider and crochet on textiles with which she falls in love.
The 1970s economic crisis forces Claudia and her family to move to Turin, a city rich in artistic history and an epicentre of manufacturing. At 17 she enrolls in teacher’s college diving into the artistic field. For a while she works in a studio printing photography for numerous artists, after which she is introduced to Gruppo Miroglio, a major player in textiles and fashion. This proves to be a milestone event for Claudia, a turning point that paves the way for her to pursue a professional life in the arts.
Self-taught, committed, and dedicated to making a difference she learns quickly bringing knowledge and talent to her first graphic arts assignment working on photography, visuals and styling. In no time she is given an opportunity to experiment with textile printing using the latest digital technology. It is at this moment while immersed in technology that she realises the art of printing textiles by hand risked being lost forever.
Claudia follows her heart, reverses course and studies the art of hand dying. She plunges into old traditional techniques including Shibari, an ancient Japanese form of rope tying. She learns about salt methods, she experiments with natural dyes in powdered form, and plant-based ones too. She fine-tunes the use of steam to set the dyes, and she begins 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.”
Claudia’s body of work stems from “her” essence. It is an abstract interpretation of emotions, gathered, stored, experienced along life’s journey. 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 manifests in wraps, scarves, foulards and tunics that enchant everyone from discerning clients to overly demanding art gallery owners.
In her Milan-based workshop Claudia Franco makes an exclusive line for The Italian Collection (TIC) that we are so proud to be featuring. Exquisite creations from the finest pongee silks of Como, delicate as they are strong begin their journey of transformation on a simple frame. Our artisan choreographs each canvas using her skilled hands painting them with implements; a brush, a sponge, a roller. Naturally hypoallergenic water colours transform the blank canvas into a silk beauty enhanced by the marbling effects of salt and set by hours under steam. Each canvas is then washed, ironed, and spread out on a frame to rest. Yes, silk needs to rest as it is alive!
The result speaks for itself – wearable art created by a lover of life, a steward of her craft, and a champion of beauty.
As Claudia says, “I thank life itself for having given me the art of living with love, in all her aspects”.