According to a Chinese legend, a young lover who attached several thin bamboo rods to a cane and coated them with fabric to protect his beloved from the rain invented the umbrella. Perhaps this is just a love story, but some believe umbrellas were common in China around the 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. This company produces, annually, about 35,000 umbrellas, which are exported to more than 75 countries.
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". ■
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