Only the innovative nature of the Italians can turn inexperience and a huge miscalculation into a fashion statement. And only those Italians from Tuscany knew how to make it a statement that would last through the test of time.
Wool has been a constant, thriving economic force in Italy as far back as the Etruscans, Romans and the Medici Family. It is a well known fact that the banking houses in Florence built their wealth on the wool industry. The Casentino Valley, where the Arno river starts its trek to Florence, was perhaps one of the largest suppliers of high quality woolen products in Tuscany.
In the late 1800’s they sought to further commercialize their natural resource, and a “mantelline per cavalcature” was introduced to the Florentine market. This was basically a thick, water resistant blanket used to cover, keep warm and protect work animals that hauled large loads.
Traditionally, this cover was made in a deep red – but due to an error when they mixed the chemicals to soften the wool, the color came out a vivid orange. Like most trends, it was a twist of fate that turned this rough cloth with its unique color, fashionable.
The “panno Casentino” was admired by illustrious names such as Baron Ricasoli and the opera composers Giuseppe Verdi and Giacomo Puccini. The result was that this brightly colored felted wool was fashioned into a double breasted jacket complete with a fox fur collar which became a very Italian symbol of wealth and prestige of the upper echelon.
A reputation that is still widely recognized in Italy today.