Lisa Corti's Colourful World
Her caftans, bed spreads and bathing suits have captivated a cult following from the Tuscan shores to the Hamptons.
Top: Corti's textiles are displayed in her Milan emporium, where she sells quilts, pillows, tablecloths, ceramics, pareos, dresses and childrenswear .
Lisa Corti's world is filled with colour. The Milan-based textile designer surrounds herself with floral and playful patterned fabrics that define her aesthetic and are anything but dull. Inspired by her childhood in Africa, Corti's love of light and colour has guided her for the last thirty years, and has made her distinctive look timeless and elegant. Relatively unknown in North America until recently, when she began expanding her collection to tabletop, the quiet designer nevertheless has amassed a following of fans, including Vogue, who describes her aesthetic as "an inviting mix of florals and jewel-toned geometrics that can be draped over a bed or hung like a work of art."
During her childhood in Ethiopia, Corti fell in love with the beauty of the African people, their ancient decorative traditions, and in particular, the womens' brightly coloured costumes. These formative years - and Corti's cultural background - are the foundation of the designer's aesthetic, which she brought with her to Italy as a young adult, and where she still lives today, managing her textile emporium and three stores in Milan, Rome and Florence.
Lisa Corti Shirtdress
East meets West
It wasn't until her first trip to India that Corti found the fabrics, ornaments and colours that allowed her the opportunity to begin what has been her lifelong work of creating textiles. She loves working with India’s artisans because their printing techniques haven’t changed over the centuries, from the printing of fabrics from carved blocks, to weaving with traditional looms, to the colouring and finishing techniques that are thousands of years old. Corti’s products are a blend of generations-old traditions and her personal inspiration, a mix of East and West.
Since 1976 Corti has been building her business, and because she never expanded beyond Italy, her wares aren't widely available - which, to some fans, adds to her cultish allure. In 2013, she launched new lines of decoupage charger plates and placemats to complement her pillows, tablecloths , bathing suits, shirt dresses and childrens clothing. Her Milan 'emporium' is housed in a 15th century convent, where she runs her business with her daughter Ida, the company's co-Creative Director.
Ida Corti's Milan apartment, featured in Architectural Digest
Today, with her daughter Ida working by her side, Ms. Corti still eschews mass production in favor of limited hand-printing in India. This way of working keeps her distribution narrow, which ensures that her buzz stays fresh with fans.