Three Threads for Chanel

by Firusa Torna (United States of America)

The last thing I expected USA


The rollicking tremors of the wheels underfoot sealed the train car with white noise. I sat in a silent cabinet sailing through the night. The screen of my throwaway phone read 8 PM. I was heading south, from the beaches of Viareggio to Firenze. I sat there with the knowledge that I came within a hair’s breadth of missing my flight home to the United States. I could not be moved to regret my impromptu trip to the coast. I thought to myself that sometimes you can find amazing things when you get lost. I had spent the day warming my bones on a private beach. In the diaspora of the fashion district in Firenze, Italy, there stands a fabric shop called Casa De Tessuti. One afternoon, two friends and I were wandering the streets around the Duomo, the last scraps of our walking lunch in hand. We popped into Casa De Tessuti, attracted by the jade green window dressings. This establishment housed a museum, with quite the fine collection of rare silks, wools, and cashmere. We could not have known that one of the owners would takes a shine to us and spend an hour telling us the story of fashion in Italy. Romano showed us an iridescent fabric that was blue on one side and pink on the other. He showed us a thread of three colors (pink, pale yellow, and pearl) that had comprised one of Chanel’s earliest tweed suits. He asked us questions and joked with us, meticulously combing through all of the fabrics and selecting one for each of us to encapsulate our essence as people. This experience is my most treasured memory from the month that I lived in Italy, among the mornings spent sketching sculptures and the afternoons spent painting various Italian street scenes. There are so many questions I would have liked to have asked Romano, had I had a better grasp on the language. These were mysteries that I would contemplate for many years after my visit at Casa de Tessuti. I was swept up in the charm of the store and its owners. Romano seemingly inducted me, personally, into the history of Florence. I felt proud that the fabric he had picked for me was woven with thin cords of real gold. Maybe one day I will be back to pick a fabric for my wedding dress, as Romano imagined. I have since searched for reviews of Casa De Tessuti, each new story warming my heart. As one writer said, they left the store understanding Da Vinci’s words: “We should find someone worthy to inhabit these wonderful materials!”