Friday, February 17, 2012

Me and Mariano Fortuny

MJH Designarts Vintage Fortuny Pillows

Yesterday I picked up a few new vintage Fortuny pillows and a pair of Scalamandre "Le Tigre" pillows from Pam, the principal of Fine Details, Inc. ( my amazing pillows creator/fabricator. I have been collecting antique and vintage Mariano Fortuny fabrics for many years with the intent of creating a line of fine decorative pillows for MJH DesignArts. For several years I had searched for just the right pillow creator (and it takes a very detail oriented person to create these perfect pillows), my first creator is located in Texas, and although her work is exceptional--truly every pillow was a work of art.

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 Wonderful Texas Fabricator

Note the beautiful tiny stitches and the mitre work!!

I had to find another fabricator because of the high cost of shipping everything back and forth to Texas. Second creator did a wonderful job, but communicating with her was a bit of a problem and she lived in a section of Los Angeles where parking is almost nonexistent (trekking around with the heavy down inserts and heavy fabrics really was a challenge with my dealer-back situation)--but her pillows were perfection and Maria was a joy to work with. Unfortunately, Maria retired and moved back to Guatemala (and that would really be a schlep). Next up was a professional upholsterer and pillow maker in Fullerton, where I live.........she seemed great when I spoke with her and also when I brought in the fabrics and custom 30% down to 70% pillow inserts. Of course, I use a very special and tiny welt to detail the pillows (which I explained and showed to Victoria). She said that she would have no problem. END RESULT: she used my custom fillers on pillows that she was making for another client; she couldn't attach the antique Houles trim; her stitching was too large; the welting was too large and wrinkled, etc. (I ended up eating these pillows)....Next. I tried a high-end tailor in Pasadena. He happened to be Korean; so we had a slight communications problem. BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY-----he didn't center the pattern when he cut the pillows AND he stitched the vintage Fortuny with the GOOD SIDE ON THE INSIDE--plus HE BLAMED ME (I ate some of these pillows, also)!!!
                                 AND NOW I HAVE PAM!!!!!!!
Fortuny "Peruano" Pattern--right side

Fortuny "Peruano" Pattern--reverse side
"Peruano"(right side) tiny, tiny welt

(I've been trying to move the photo up -- but can't----HELP). But, at least the font has stayed in Verdana (?) the entire time--definitely improving on the posting technical end.

"Peruano" (right side) detail

I chose to create a pair of pillows in Fortuny's c. 1970's "Peruano" pattern with the "right" facing out and a second pair of pillows in "Peruano" with the reverse side facing out. I loved the more intense, moody and dramatic presence of the reverse side, as well as the soft muted grays and crisp white of the right side. The pillows are backed in a high end Kravet charcoal silk strie that adds wonderful texture without detracting attention from the Fortuny itself. See that little tiny welt--Pam does a beautiful job--no wrinkles!!!  I formed a deep bond with this particular Fortuny pattern and colorway: being raised in Central Mexico surrounded by Aztec symbolism there was a definite deep connection to the symbolism of the pattern. Additionally, charcoal and gray are my preferred accent colors (but please do not get me going on what red and cinnabar do for rooms). And I love the interplay between refined and ethnic or rustic/rough elements--these pillows look great on Madame Victoire who is the epitome of refined detailing. 

The "Peruano" pillows are for sale on my website (

Have a great week-end. Be well........


  1. Mary there is nothing like the Fortuny fabrics. I do love that you had one pair done outside in! The welting and backing silk fabric is divine!

    Art by Karena

  2. Hi Karena, Yes, I do love the mystery in the reverse side. Have a super day. Mary