Colour is the distinctive aesthetic element of our footwear, it puts creative drive into our manufacturing process.
Thanks to our work of research and development on ancient dyeing techniques, today we craft our shoes using colours provided by nature, obtained from tinctorial plants that the land makes available to us.
Renewable and environmentally sustainable, these dyes are extracted using traditional manual techniques, which we have studied from treatises on medieval art, and they are applied by daubing the uppers with a cotton cloth, impregnating them with the vegetable juices of the tinctorial plants.
We are delighted to bring you the world preview of our first footwear collection created entirely with natural colours - enabling us to achieve the most authentic beauty that we could dream up.
RESEDA LUTEOLA L.
Scientific name: Reseda luteola L.
Historical notes: As a dyestuff, weld was already known during the Stone Ages. Indeed, in the course of some excavations in various lakeside settlements in Switzerland, some weld seeds were unearthed alongside a collection of ornaments. For all of the Middle Ages and the following centuries, this plant was one of the main yellow dyestuffs known and held in high regard in Europe.
Origins and geographic distribution: Western & Southern Europe and Anatolia.
Habitat: Weld grows spontaneously along the wayside, uncultivated land, in the hedgerow, on walls and limestone quarries. It prefers light terrain which can even be poor and dry or lime-rich or sandy, but with full sun.
Life cycle: Annual, biennial or perennial.
Colour yield: Yellow
Harvesting and use: The plant is harvested when it is in full bloom. All the aerial part of the plant is used to extract the colouring principle (luteolin). The dye is used on textile fibres, leather and for the paint and decorative-coatings sector.
Bearing witness to ancient techniques for pigment extraction, we can find still today in the heart of Renaissance Urbino the grindstone which once belonged to the family of Raphael. A fascinating artefact telling of fine skills and craftsmanship and exuding the world-old knowledge passed down through the centuries and still used today in top-of-the-line manufacturing processes.
Rubia tinctorium L.
Scientific name: Rubia tinctorium L.
Historical notes: The use of this plant species as a tinctorial plant is recorded in Sumerian writings and in the Bible where mention is made of it being suitable to dye cotton and linen. The Ancient Greeks and Romans used it as a red fabric dye and for medicinal purposes.
Origins and geographic distribution: It originally comes from Persia and the Eastern Mediterranean basin. Cultivated in Europe, it became naturalised in various regions of France and, in some cases, in Italy too.
Habitat: It grows spontaneously along the roadside in sunny places. It prefers lime-rich soil.
Life cycle: Perennial
Colour yield: The quality of the soil affects the colour yield: in soil rich in humus and calcium carbonate, madder gives a scarlet hue whilst grown in clayey soils it yields a brick red of varying intensity.
Harvesting and use: Harvesting is best done in October/November: plants must be at least two years old before they are dug up from the roots and laid out to dry in the sun. The madder root contains anthraquinonoid pigments. The most important of these, alizarin, gives it its bright red colour. It is a good dye for all kinds of fabric and leather. It is used to decorate wood and interior furnishings as well as being employed in the artistic field for oil paints and water colours.
The frescoes of the Salimbeni Brothers
The frescoes of the great Salimbeni family decorating the walls of the prayer hall of San Giovanni a Urbino (Oratory of St. John the Baptist at Urbino) transport us into a small universe overflowing with meaningful symbols. Interestingly enough, in addition to the meticulous artwork, the frescoes also show traces of plant colourant. Widely used for dyeing processes and applied to clothing at the time, this vegetable-based technique is on view today for our enjoyment via these magnificent illustrations.
ISATIS TINCTORIA L.
Scientific name: Isatis tinctoria L.
Origins and geographic distribution: Mediterranean and central Europe (from Italy to England), Western Asia up to the Himalayas and North Africa (Egypt). In Italy it thrived greatly in the central regions, particularly in the regions of the Marches and Tuscany.
Habitat: This plant occurs spontaneously along road and railway embankments and in sunny spots. It prefers soil which is rich in lime or clayey-siliceous terrain - both should be deep, moist and loose.
Life cycle: Biennial. Foliage occurs mainly in the first year after planting, whilst blooms will not appear until the spring of the second year.
Colour yield: Indigo blue
Harvesting and use: The dyestuff is obtained by harvesting the leaves in the first year when the aerial part is completely mature. Basically this is when the lower leaves begin to turn yellow or take on a purplish shade. The pigment is used to dye all textile fibres, leather items, in the eco-friendly building trade for staining wood and stone walls and as colourants for the teaching profession and the fine arts sector.
Extracting the Dye
Woad undergoes a transformation: coaxed by expert hands, it succumbs to precious knowledge accumulated over time, going from seedling, to plant and finally to pigment. It symbolises the deep link that binds man to nature. A never-ending cycle which includes both the point of departure and the final destination.
Scientific name: Rhus cotinus
Historical notes: The smoketree is a large shrub which grows to 3 m. It has dull green foliage which turns bright red in autumn. Bibliographic documents testify to the production and trade of dyer’s sumach (smoketree) from 1200 to 1930.
Origins and geographic distribution: Spontaneous in the Mediterranean and Asia, it thrives on rocky terrain in Southern Europe. It grows vigorously throughout the Umbrian–Marchean Apennines in the forestland where it was once cultivated and now flourishes naturally.
Habitat: It prefers well drained soil on downward slopes, such as lime-rich terrain and the local Scaglia Rossa rock formation. It has a definite penchant for southern-facing mountainsides which are exposed to sunlight. Smoketree can be found in Apennine areas up to 900 metres above sea level.
Life cycle: over 60 years
Colour yield: Light yellow or red, but especially brown, grey and black. The pigment contained in smoketree comes from fisetin, fustin, quercetin and glucosinolate gallic acids.
Harvesting and use: Harvesting takes place in the areas of the Umbrian–Marchean Apennines where the plant grows wild. Pruning takes place to remove sprigs which are dried and then pounded finely. The end product is used in the textile industry and leather sector as well as for paints and decorative coatings for interiors.
The Buffing Process
The buffing process is the last colour-application phase and, guided by the artisan’s mastery and practised hand, Nature assumes the form desired by man. Colour leaves its mark - a mark which delineates the contours of our story in terms of both art and fine craft against the ancient backdrop of the Marches region.