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IED Madrid celebrates 150th anniversary of Spanish artist and fashion designer Mariano Fortuny

By Sandra Bódalo Munuera


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There are numerous examples of artists or scientists whose work or inventions have played a crucial part in history, but whose names have been forgotten or whose names are actually not known by the vast majority of people. This is also the case for Mariano Fortuny, a Spanish artist for whom the label “multidisciplinary” falls rather short. Painter, fashion designer, set designer, sculptor, and photographer, are only a few of his many professions. On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of his birth- he was born into a family of artists in Granada in 1871-, the Istituto Europeo di Design Madrid (IED Madrid) and the FortunyM Culture Foundation (a group of professionals from the Arts and cultural sector in Spain) are hosting “Universo Fortuny”, an initiative that seeks to inform the public and introduce it to this great Spanish cultural and artistic reference, who is an eternal stranger at the same time.

During the days of the event, Thursday February 4th and Thursday February 11th, four virtual lectures take place, open to all of the public, to promote and disseminate the Spanish designer’s artistry but also to highlight his entrepreneurial spirit as an international reference of art and beauty. “It is the first time we have collaborated together but the idea to host an academic initiative about such a versatile mastermind as Mariano Fortuny, matched the IED spirit perfectly. Our school is not solely focused on fashion, but also on graphic design and product design”, explains Moisés Nieto, the Scientific Director of the Fashion Design School at IED Madrid.

”Universo Fortuny'' is a unique opportunity to get to know the most intimate part of one of the most influential geniuses of the second half of the 20th century and to reflect on the timeless nature of his legacy. For Pilar Torrecillas, the President and member of the FortunyM Culture Foundation, “the beautiful part of these types of projects is the way we perceive them with anticipation and excitement”. For her and many others, Fortuny was and continues to be an endless inspiration. “Great Spanish fashion designers such as Cristóbal Balenciaga or Manuel Pertegaz confirmed it and considered him an example. And although it is contradictory, he is also a big stranger. An authentic raw diamond”, adds Pilar. And what is the main reason for this? Certainly this is thanks to the fact that after his death, despite giving part of his heritage to Spain, which rejected it, his wife Henriette Negrin, donated it to Venice, where the wonderful Fortuny Museum has been created. Ultimately, his legacy belongs to Italy, says Pilar Torrecillas. For this reason, “the Foundation was established four years ago with the goal to reclaim Mariano Fortuny and his connection to the city of Granada, the artist’s birthplace”, she explains.

An international legacy that is completely timeless

“Everything that fashion has claimed nowadays such as technology, craftsmanship and innovation, formed a part of his creative activity”, says designer Torrecillas. An influence that she herself has incorporated when it comes to her own collections on behalf of her fashion label Pilar Dalbat. A topic she will discuss in her lecture “Fashion’s Techniques and Discoveries”.

At the IED Madrid, this influence culminates in an exposition in the Gran Capitán Center in Granada, which will take place in the month of June. Students of IED’s Fashion School will reinterpret Fortuny’s iconic styles and prints from a modern perspective. In the exposition, the visitors will be able to view a combination of cutting-edge techniques, such as block printing and silkscreen printing, with pleating and other methods that characterize the artist. In addition, pieces with a continuous print spread out over different materials will be on display, which reimagine the patterns most used by the artist.

The series of lectures by the name of “Universo Fortuny”, promoted by Spanish fashion designer Moisés Nieto on behalf of the IED Madrid and the FortunyM Culture Foundation will take place Thursday February 4th and Thursday February 11th and is open to the public. Those who wish to attend the virtual event can register on the institute's official (Spanish) website.

Images: Courtesy of the FortunyM Culture Foundation

This article was originally published on FashionUnited.ES, translated and edited to English by Veerle Versteeg.

IED Madrid
Mariano Fortuny
Moisés Nieto
Pilar Dalbat