According to a Chinese legend, there was a young lover who attached several thin bamboo rods to a cane and coated them with fabric to protect his beloved from the rain resulting in the umbrella. Perhaps this is just a love story, but some believe umbrellas were common in China around 11th century BC.
In the chronicles of Marco Polo, written in the 14th century, the young Venetian merchant mentions that men and women of royal bearing used umbrellas in some parts of the Far East. They not only served as protection from the rain and sun, but also as fashion accessories and status symbols.
Perhaps we should credit Marco Polo for bringing the umbrella to Italy, the same way he did pasta. A good example of talent and good taste in the manufacturing of luxury umbrellas is the Italian family brand, Pasotti. Founded in 1956 in Castelluccio, Lombardy, the firm employs 100 craftsmen to create sophisticated umbrellas with refined and elegant handles that evoke the canes used by cultured gentlemen in the past. “We produce 40 thousand handmade umbrellas a year: they are very high quality products that are sold in the most prestigious boutiques in 75 countries. 93% of our turnover is done abroad, mainly Europe, North America, Russia and China. Besides the Pasotti collection, we are proud for a series of private-label cooperations with the most worldwide fashion brands”, says the Pasotti’s website.
The company was started by by Ernesta Pasotti and her husband Vittorio Giacomini, the parents of the current owner Eva Giacomini. Today, Pasotti designs and produces limited editions of luxurious umbrellas. Their creations feature the best fabrics, woods and luxurious metals; and on special occasions, they even use Swarovski crystals to decorate the handles.
The sculptural and elegant Pasotti handles —highly praised for their beauty— include the classic hook-shaped models and animal heads. In addition, the firm also make lovely canes as well as shoehorns, bracelets and pendants, all made with the same materials they use for their umbrella handles.
“We have an extensive collection of designs and styles, and apart from our projects, we also work with the big fashion brands worldwide,” says Eva Giacomini, owner of the company. “Our success is due–mainly– to the great imagination and creativity of my parents, my husband Mauro Begotti and my children Nicola and Andrea Begotti, the next generation of Pasottis”.
And the overseas market is truly continuing to grow, thanks to Nicola and Andrea Begotti, the next generation, taking part to the most important fashion weeks and investing a lot on the Web, thus increasing the brand recognition, says the company website. Italian luxury umbrella manufacturing lives on from generation to generation. ■