Textile Design Talents Solstudio Award 2018 contest, held in early 2018, brought together more than 300 participants from 5 countries. Beginners and experienced fabric artists created their works in the struggle for the main prize – an internship in the design department of the Ratti S.p.A. textile factory – Marzotto Group, one of the world’s largest producers of high fashion fabrics.
In March, within the framework of the opening of the Interfabric exhibition, the winner was announced – it was Sofia Eliseeva, a fashion designer from Moscow. Recently, Sofia went on a long-awaited internship in the Como region, the heart of the textile industry of Italy.
Sofia Eliseeva, 28 years old, fashion designer, Moscow:
“The Ratti factory is a city in the city, with its labyrinths and mechanisms. In total, the factory employs about 5,000 employees. Most of the team consists of young, but already experienced people.
Life at the factory begins at 9 am and ends at 6 pm. The hour intended for rest the staff spend fun – having lunch, sitting on the sun loungers, playing ping-pong, all in Italian fun, noisy and friendly.
The factory is 20 minutes away from the railway station of Lomazzo, from where you can reach the center of Milan in 45-50 minutes and stroll around the Duomo and the Brera Pinakotheque, see Mantegna, Caravaggio, Crivelli, Bellini and many others. Of course, I did not miss the chance to empty all the local art stores!
The factory consists of two huge buildings. In one there are offices of designers and managers, in the second – directly production.
On the first day of the internship, I was introduced to Lorenza Mosca, art director of the factory. She showed me the process of developing sketches for leading fashion houses. The first stage of work of textile artists is a dialogue, discussion of the forthcoming work. Then everything goes on in a large and bright workshop, which occupies the bulk of the second floor of the office building. All sketches are created manually, then processed on the computer. On each design works a whole group of designers.
Then Lorentz showed the most inspiring place – the library of Fondazione Ratti. The founder of the factory, Antoni Ratti, began collecting rare samples for his museum after the Second World War. Now it contains about 10 thousand books on the tissues, some of which date back to the XIX century. The collection of fabric designs is endless: the library includes sketches of fabrics for Christian Dior, Hermes, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci and many other fashion houses. All fabrics are sorted by themes and styles. Artists come here for inspiration while working on designs. There are exactly one thousand of basic fabrics and examples of printing on it. Prints on jacquard or cotton, satin, silk, “chanel”, fil coupé or crepe-chiffon? Here you are, Ratti has it all!
The second day of the visit was entirely devoted to the development of jacquard fabrics together with a specialist Carlo Cataneo. She talked about the preparation for production, and then showed me special jacquard machines. I was surprised that there were separate machines for making only accessories, for example, for ties.
On the third day we met with Giancarlo Berlusconi, director of print production. From a room with jacquard looms through the labyrinths of corridors we went to a huge space with machines for printing on fabric.
In Ratti several types of printing machines are used.
First, they work with traditional printing, in which up to 49 colors can be used. On a table of 40 meters long, cloth is laid out, paint is put in special compartments, and under the careful supervision of the engineer, a printing begins. Printing inks are non-toxic and safe for the environment. Water is used several times, which significantly reduces the consumption of natural resources in such a large production.
Secondly, Ratti makes direct printing on silk and viscose. 85% of the materials used for printing are natural, the remaining 15% is viscose. After the printing of the fabric, the processes of fixing the paints, as well as washing, drying and softening the tissues take place.
Thirdly, sublimation printing on synthetic tissues is carried out.
The final stage of the press is the evaluation of marriage, and it is performed exclusively by people! Only people can see every centimeter of tissue and reveal the defect, the machines here, alas, are still powerless.
Then we visited the warehouse of ready-made fabrics for wholesale orders, which Ratti delivers all over the world.
The last two days of training we spent with designers Ambika and Erica, who develop and create fabrics for the catalogs of Emmanuel Ungaro and Carnet. This process is very complicated and takes many months. In the office of designers there are huge mood boards with samples of fabrics, color palettes and moods of the next season.
This internship gave me an excellent chance to see how our European colleagues work (and they work a lot!). Of course, I was inspired by the atmosphere of the creative studio and the way the artists treat the history and the Ratti collection with creativity. Ratti offers long-term internships for professionals from all over the world, and I want to try my hand by applying and return there. I thank the jury of the Textile Design Talents Solstudio Award 2018 for such a wonderful chance to see the whole mechanism of production of high fashion fabrics. “