THE BLOG
08/18/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Italian Textile Royalty: Milano Unica

Okay I caught a glimpse of him this week--while he was in New York--the King of Cashmere - Pier Luigi Loro Piana strutting comfortably in his double breasted cerulean linen suit--it even has a name "Carta de Zucchero" a shade of blue once used to wrap Italian sugar. Wrapped in his sugar blue, the heir to the 600 million dollar plus a year company told me he is here in New York, his second home, to preside as president over Milano Unica, the International Textile Fair organized in Italy. The giant conference was held at the Mandarin Oriental. The host, Aniello Mussella, Executive Director of the Italian Trade Commission in New York reunited the most creative minds in the fashion industry. Why? They all came to hear trend expert Angelo Uslenghi's "Directions" and guidelines for the fall/winter season of 2010/11. Imagine the heads of the most famous fashion houses petting, eyeing literally breathing in different fabrics-- to decide which shade of gray, which blend of wool will inspire designers in the next two years to come.
The textiles were inspired by themes like "open air", "open mind", "rush hour" and "happy hour"--they seem to refer more to the body within the fabric than the blend itself.
Angelo said there is a new "hybridization" among textiles: flashy, shiny and synthetic fibers are out. Calm, natural and a return to realism are in. The president agrees. He speaks of the "social moment" with a glint in his eyes, as if to acknowledge the Great Recession. One of the solutions, he says is to produce and accentuate more than ever the use of vegetable and animal fiber blends.
Did someone say animal?
Loro Piana was the one who saved the endangered Vicuna from extinction in Peru to produce blankets, sweaters and pieces that only the R.A.F. can afford. (Rich and Famous.) He used black sheep in New Zealand to design a line named "Pecora Nera"--no one can copy, and orchestrated the use of the Chinese Mongolian Hyrcus baby goat at 3 months old in order to make the world's best baby wool--
Milano Unica will not only be a textile fair. It will also present, for the first time ON STAGE-- an unveiling of ten emerging fashion talents from around the world. Alexis Mabille from France, and Thomas Engel Hart from the US--to name a few. Enlightened by a morning spent with the Italian textile gurus, I ask the wool meister, Pier Luigi Loro Piana, what he knows about food? He says he loves the American menus. But "where do you eat the most in New York" I ask. "Cipriani," he answers. Figures.
He only likes the best.