Historic Lecce, you probably know, is a labyrinth of narrow streets packed with churches and monuments in its signature Baroque style, their façades congested with intricate carvings, the interiors brimming with hosts of heavenly figures. Still, I couldn’t help but pull up short at something rather more profane: the windows of a store called Epiphany. Taking up a whole corner, at street level, of lovely old Palazzo Andretta, one of many concealing charming courtyard gardens and within spitting distance of the fabulously-sculpted cathedral, Epiphany boasted a stunning display of home textiles in gorgeous, muted A/W shades of grey and écru, petrol blue, mauve, brick red and mustard. Plain and impressively patterned too.
I’d discovered Society, a northern Italian fine linens brand with a handful of outlets in Europe, a couple in the US and another 2 down under. Epiphany is the Society store in Lecce. They didn’t just look good, those displays of bed, bath and table linens, shirts and scarves. Society was established 14 years ago under the robust wing of the Limonta Group to do innovative things for home couture with superior fibres. Textile research involving mixing, treating and weaving valuable yarns in novel ways, selecting original dyes and combinations of them, reviving ancient fibres and techniques: this is the creative stuff of Society. So the range of fabrics includes exotics manila hemp (a fibre once used for cordage, obtained from a relative of the banana tree), and ramié (another natural fibre developed millennia ago in the Far East), as well as double layer cotton, wool, smooth linen, honeycomb linen, linen or cotton terry cloth and pleated or plissé cotton variations. Have to go back to see the new S/S collection – or look up the Rome and Milan stores on my travels.