Florence, the capital of the Tuscany region, embodies the spirit of ancient Italy in the richness of art, culture and years of celebrating and creating beauty. The Uffizi Gallery, the world’s best collection of Italian Renaissance art, and the Galleria dell ‘Accademia, home to the statue of David, are in the same heavily concentrated area of authentic restaurants, boutiques, hotels, and cafes. Florentine people are at one with modernity and history, and there is a place that exemplifies this beautifully, the Antico Setificio Fiorentino. A tree canopies a large iron gate as you walk into the Antico Setifico, a textile mill that was built in 1786 by noble Florentine families with the original looms are still in use. In the Fourteenth Century, the art of silk weaving reached its peak during the heir of the Medici and continued to thrive as a symbol of status and as a means of currency. The Antico Setificio houses a loom designed by Leonardo da Vinci himself.
Entering the silk mill, you first notice the rhythmic sound of the artisans working the looms. I met with a woman who had been working for a decade at the Antico Setificio, creating beautifully spun silk fabrics for interiors and clothing. It’s a physical process creating these intricate designs and one that requires a steady hand and eye to determine if each thread is properly in place. Draped across the looms there are subtle patterns in shades of neutrals, and also with rich jewel tones in shades of sapphire, ruby, and emerald – all in various states of production. There’s a calm atmosphere that permeates throughout the mill, perhaps because of the garden-like setting or the sense of history here.
In 2010 Stefano Rici company purchased the mill and assured its future. After the acquisition, Stefano Ricci Home launched, and the production of textiles brought the work of this centuries-old mill to life in the homes and yachts of the elite around the world.
Stefano Ricci, the Italian menswear designer renowned for his custom suits made of ultra-fine wool, got his start in designing ties at a very young age. In 1972 Stefano and his wife Claudia launched Stefano Ricci Company and expanded the company to suits, sportswear and following ancient Florentine goldsmith tradition, began creating fine cufflinks. Knitwear, done with a fresh hand, in dreamy lightweight yarns are the brands answer to modern casual wear. Now with stores the world over, the brand’s heart and heritage remain in Florence. Stefano Ricci’s acquisition of Antico Setificio Fiorentino is in line with honoring the past while looking towards the future.