February 08 2012
Lucia van der Post
If you love laying a grand table and sinking into lace-bedecked sheets of the finest cottons, then I have just the thing for you. Jesurum, a venerated Venetian brand founded in 1870, the oldest manufacturer of linens and lace in the city, was revived two years ago and its wares are available once again.
All through the 142 years of its history it has suffered considerable ups and downs. The worst of the downs was when it closed some 10 years ago, but before that there had been the first world war, when lace making had to stop and woollen stockings for soldiers had to be knitted instead. During the ups it was the linen of choice for many a European crowned head and aristocrat, and it became the official supplier to the Italian royal family. Happily, new owners have come on the scene who are determined that the exquisite lace and linens their ancestors used to enjoy should be made for the delectation of another generation. They have set the looms (Jesurum’s are the only ones like them to survive) and the fingers going again.
Unless you are from an extraordinarily grand family, these are not sheets and tablecloths for everyday use. They are very special, very beautiful pieces to be brought out on high days and holidays. They’re the stuff that trousseaux are made of. There are tablecloths, sheets and pillowcases edged in the most exquisite lace imaginable (original founder Michelangelo Jesurum helped re-establish the art of pillow-lace-making on the island of Pellestrina, as well as opening a workshop just behind the Piazza San Marco in Venice itself).
There are several different styles and designs, but, to give an example of prices, a placemat and napkin in the Riccio collection (third picture), embroidered and embellished with silver thread, costs £179 for the set. A Venice cream linen and lace tablecloth (first picture), 180cm by 300cm, with delicious inlaid narrow lace bands in the centre and on the edges, is £1,749, while a white satin cotton king top sheet with a wide lace border (second picture) is £695, a duvet cover (240cm by 220cm) £830, and a lace-trimmed pillowcase £198.
In the UK Jesurum products are available from the Monogrammed Linen Shop, but the new owners have lots of plans to expand – either into shops of their own or into “corners” of good department stores. Once seen, these linens are deeply desired.