“We are here for a short amount of time, but Fortuny deserves to be here forever,” observes Mickey Riad, artistic director of the inspirational Italian textile house. With the 100-year anniversary of Fortuny’s Venice factory on the horizon, it’s a time of reflection for the brand.
The story begins in the early 1900s when Spanish artist Mariano Fortuny created silk dresses and textiles in Venice. After making a name for himself, the company was lovingly placed in the hands of designer Elsie McNeill Lee in 1949, who, 20 years prior, brought Fortuny to New York’s Madison Avenue and established the brand’s position in the U.S. market. In 1988, Maged Riad bought the company from Lee, and eventually his sons, Mickey and Maury, began working for the new family business. Fast-forward 23 years and Mickey Riad is designing collections and shepherding the brand into the future.
But no matter what direction the designs take, Venice, “the fountain of inspiration,” is always at the core. The latest collection, Imago, celebrates not only Venice but its supporting characters— local places and things are woven into the literal and metaphorical fabric of the company. Barberini (below) is named after the noble Roman family whose Palazzo featured a lush secret garden; the reintroduced Simboli (shown to Riad’s right in portrait above) was used on early notebooks for the brand. The magic is in embracing the originality of Fortuny, while still looking ahead. For the artistic director, the longer he continues at the Italian fabric house, the more relevance he sees in founder Mariano Fortuny, and his lasting influence.