06.04.2020, Design Interview Kultur
„It is easy to see luxury through rich things because they dazzle you. Real luxury to me means seeing beauty in semplicity. It is not easy though for sure.“ (Rita Polese, Jesurum – Venezia 1870)

The art of lace made history many years ago but its precious cultural heritage lives on until today. On the occasion of the upcoming LUXURY issue of Numéro Berlin, the exclusive household linen and lace company Jesurum Venezia tells us why. About an ancient philosophy of luxury appreciated in our own four walls.
In the Venetian lagoon, on the island Burano, is where everything started: While wives of fisherman waited for their husbands to come back from sea, fixing their fishing nets, they slowly discovered the art of lace-making. In the 15th century then, this new „thing“ reached a peak: Laces were nearly omnipresent, wether on priests’ vestments, petticoats, corsages, shoes, carinval masks, curtains or parasols. When Richard III of England was coronated, Queen Anne wore a cape, trimmed with Venetian lace. Then, Caterina de’ Medici married Henri II wearing a trousseau, richly lace-embellished. Famous for his lace makers with „golden hands“, it was Michelangelo Jesurum who founded his luxury lace company „Jesurum Venezia“ in 1870. Aight years later, he was rewarded at the Universal Exhibition in Paris for inventing the first polychrome lace with colorful threads.

Today, the Italian brand is owend by Rita Polese who managed to buy the company afterthree attempts only. It offers custommade designs for a.o. residences, yachts, private jetsand a products range from high end bed linens, bath linens, cushion or kitchen fabrics. Jesurum Venezia produces for the richest of the rich: Royal Families such as Princess Caroline of Monaco, sultans and princes from all over the world, celebrities such as EltonJohn, Céline Dion, Woody Allen, Liza Minelli. In the past, they worked with icons such as Henry Fonda, Elizabeth Fonda and Paul Newman. Lace-making is one of the most crucial savoir-faires the brand is holding on to. It is a story about the power of traditions defining luxury. And why new luxury cannot be created without old luxury. Why we have to protect artistic education and expertise. An interview with Rita Polese and her team in Paris.

Numéro Berlin: Mrs Rita Polese, what does real luxury mean to you personally?
Rita Polese: To me it means having a top fabric and change the bed sheets every night (laughs). I’m kidding. It is easy to see luxury through rich things because they dazzle you.Real luxury should be found in simple things. Seeing beauty in semplicity. It is difficult though for sure.
Jesurum-Team: That is also why they say that the hardest pasta to make is „Pasta Al Pomodoro“.
How can you recognize the differences of high quality laces?Generally speaking: In more techniques of elaborations in each single piece. This is what makes high quality lace so much more precious. The main difference also lies in the support of the laces. For this, you need to use fabrics which can be either synthetic or made out of cotton. Us, for example, we use tulle made out of cotton that you can only buy in Switzerland. Alternatively, you can also use yarns to connect the lace.
How long does it averagely take to work on one lace piece?Approximately one month but it really depends on the particular piece and technique. For the lace style „Makramee“ for example, the tulle and lace are getting fused once you have done the support layer as a first thing, so the finishing ends up being see-through. Our most famous style with this technique is the „Venice collection“, a style that has originally been designed by Michelangelo Jesurum in 1910, a polychrome Makramee that also won the „Gran Premio“ at the international exhibition in Barcelona in 1929. Wealso offer it in diverse colors, something that again Michelangelo introduced.
Do your designs get copied a lot?
Of course, especially the embroideries are easy to copy. But then also, Versace once said:„copie sono il prezzo del successo.“ And it is true, that we get copied a lot means that we do the right thing.
Can you recognize any big changes in the designs that clients ask for nowadays? Did the general taste alter in the past years?Absolutely. Taste is evolving constantly, especially also since everyone is traveling so much. There are some countries that put emphasis on traditions, others ask for more modern designs. So for us, the evolution of our lace becomes crucial but since the brand is coming from the art of lace-making – which is obviously a very traditional art – our contemporary styles are a compromise between tradition and evolution.
Which countries prefer traditional styles?
We got to enter a lot of private houses. Traditional styles are usually always preferred by Russia and Arabic women because in Saudi Arabi men and women still have separated bedrooms. But of course, the younger generations in those countries evolve their own style and taste. We also work with a.o. The House of Al Thani (the ruling family of Qatar). My god, I am forgetting about all these clients (laughs). Once we visited one of the wifes of Al Thani and her daughter we saw the mother pushing for the lace whereas her daughter, living in london with her family, wanted everything super modern. I don’t think that lace is something really old but it is an ancient philosophy of elegance.
Do you produce lace for fashion as well?
No, we received many requests for wedding dresses in the past but it is just a completelydifferent thing. The production is very diverse. Three times you tried to buy Jesurum.
What made you want to buy the company somuch?
I come from a family that has always worked in the textile industry, let’s say it is part of my DNA. We had different companies such as tailorings so I know I had the expertise, the Savoir-Faire to buy this company. It is actually the only expertise I have. For sure, I would have not been able to work in fashion. The fashion industry is too difficult for me, it is too fast and too crazy (lacht).
What is the most important expertise you need as a brand like Jesurum?
Mostly anything is hand-made and produced inhouse so you need expertised people to design and produce. We have an archive of patterns we work with and then expertized seamstresses who work with the lace.
Is this work only done by women?
Yes (laughs), in Italy yes.
Jesurum Team: We once went to Marocco and were surprised that all sewers were male. Here in Italy, many many years ago, they also used nuns since they had the best schools for embroideries. Today it is still a tradition that women pass on to following generations. But unfortunately, they are getting quite old now and the risk is that there are no more generations following in their footsteps. Young people are not interested in this work anymore. But I am quite sure that there will be a comeback. Let’s hope so (laughs).
What do you think are the reasons for this change?
Jesurum Team: It’s a lifestyle that is fading. To sit at a table with a beautiful tablecloth, special timeless gifts – all these traditions are fading and this is bad. People still like the theory of it but then they are asked for patience to take care of it. They don’t want to iron anymore etc. It is culture and education we have to preserve. Because the moment we take some time to show and explain them, once they see and touch the lace, they all love it and would be like „I had no idea“. And I speak for myself as well: Before I started to work here, I would have slept in anything, even in a potato bag. Then I tried the Jesurum sheets and I was literally reborn (laughs). The dangerous thing is that once you tried it you don’t want to go back.
What was the most challenging, special customization you worked on?
I’d say the garments for the tables of arabic families since they are made in a horseshoe form and are so huge. To design tablecloths for them is very challenging for their particualr needs: For example, their legs have to be fully covered but an the same time they have to be able to sit down properly wearing their long dresses, hence particular apertures in the tablecloth are needed. It is like engineering, we have to measure every single seat with the proper space they need, then we do a slit otherwise they couldn’t sit.There are sometimes quite challenging situations. I remember this one in particular: We work with this family and do all their houses. So we had been working on their house in Saint Tropez and had almost finished. Then they expected guests for a dinner so we had to design a tableclothes for their black table which was seven metres long. What we did was we interrupted the fabric with a lace in forms of shells so we were able to insert pieces and extend the total lenght of it. That was crazy!
Jesurum Team: We also have this Italian private customer, her style is very similar to Donatella Versace. She likes very bold color combinations, a use of turquoise with orange e.g., table clothes with gold laces etc. She also doesn’t have actual chairs, she has thrones.
What is the strongest market for you?
England and the Middle East. As a third, America.
America? That is quite surprising, do they ask for lace as well?Rather not, but they love our modern styles. And that is what is so beautiful about our work, that we can combine something so traditional with modern needs.



Interview: Sina Braetz
Images: PR

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