Hollywood’s glitterati have always known the value of a good night’s beauty sleep, and for the biggest stars of the silver screen, nothing but a five-star slumber between Pratesi’s handmade linens would do—so much so that Elizabeth Taylor once reportedly checked out of a hotel because they were missing from her suite.
It’s labor-intensive. After the linens are cut they are sent to be embroidered, again by hand, then it’s back to the cutters to trim. There are so many ‘hand touches’—Michelle Klein
The story of Pratesi wouldn’t be out of place in a fairy tale. It began in 1896 in a small village outside of Florence, Italy, when wine merchant Remigio Pratesi fell in love with a local beauty and commissioned a set of handwoven linens to win her heart. So luxurious was the bedding it took local seamstresses two years to embroider and sew. A year after Pratesi gave his sweetheart the gift they were married. Word of the linens’ unparalleled quality spread and soon they became much sought-after by local noblemen.
So, in 1906, the house of Pratesi was born. From its first shop on the Tuscan coast, Pratesi’s reputation was enhanced by its clientele. It created a collection for Coco Chanel, supplied European royalty, and was appointed to design a set of linens for the Vatican. A flagship store in Milan was followed by another on New York City’s Madison Avenue as the company grew globally.
For more than a century, Pratesi was the go-to brand for exquisite linens for exclusive clientele. Now, after a change in ownership and brief hiatus in production, the company has relaunched.
“It is such a storied brand and bringing it back to life is an honor and a journey of love,” says MIchelle Klein, global CEO of Sferra, which has bought the company with the intention of restoring it to its former glory.
“It’s been like putting a puzzle back together,” she says. “We’ve spoken to people who previously worked here, who knew the DNA of the brand, and we’ve combed through the archives and studied the past to provide exactly what today’s Pratesi client expects.”
Those studies included looking at materials and construction. Sferra has retained Pratesi’s signature fabric Angel Luxe, so named for its heavenly softness, woven from rare, extra-long Egyptian-harvested cotton: “The finest in the world,” Klein says.
Retaining the same raw cotton was as important as maintaining the process of production. Klein has engaged the same caliber of traditional craftspeople to secure the quality the brand demands. The cotton is transported to northern Italy to be woven in mills before being sent to ateliers to be hand-cut.
“It’s labor-intensive,” Klein says. “After the linens are cut they are sent to be embroidered, again by hand, then it’s back to the cutters to trim. There are so many ‘hand touches.’”
The company even went back to the original packaging-maker. “We have kept the trademark orange packaging of the original brand so each Pratesi piece is beautifully laid out and presented for our customers. We had to get that right.”
Klein’s passion for the tradition and longevity of the linens brand is matched by her eagerness to plant Pratesi firmly in the present. “We remain true to our heritage but with some tweaks and add-ons we are relevant for today.
“We have changed the color of the embroidery on our legacy designs to offer a more contemporary look. Rather than a scalloped edge we offer a flat one and our Icona line has a beautiful stylized ‘P’ logo to show we’re moving forward.
“We have a new, innovative percale called Paradise, a slightly finer weave, which forms the base of our Federico collection, to sit alongside Angel Luxe. Both are cool and crisp, and we also have two jacquards with a sateen finish and slightly warmer feel—we want to make sure we have something for everyone. We even use recycled paper in our packaging.
“It’s vital for a loyal fanbase who demand quality but also want something to fit in with their home and what they already have,” she continues. “We want them to think it’s great that Pratesi is back.”
The company is already working on special projects with designers and architects and “entertains all projects: yachts, jets, residential.” It offers a concierge service and welcomes requests for customization and personalization on colors, embroidery, and monograms. “No other brand can deliver the quality, craft, and detail. We know how clients like to add a personal touch. A Pratesi piece is like an heirloom.”
Klein’s aim is “to make Pratesi even better than the original.” She is on her way. We spend a lot of time in bed, so acquiring good linens makes sense—but why is luxury bedding like that offered by Pratesi so important?
“It creates a beautiful environment, and makes getting into bed something to look forward to. Once you’re in bed you feel so comfortable and relaxed you can’t help but gravitate toward good sleep,” Klein says. “And once you sleep in Pratesi, you’ll never want to sleep in anything else.”
Michelle Klein’s Tips for Creating a Bedroom Sanctuary
“Creating the perfect bedroom sanctuary for me starts with the bedding. I like a nicely layered bed, not only because it makes for a cozy sleep but also because it is visually pleasing and adds a well-thought-out design element, elevating the comfort and beauty of a bedroom.
“In the warmer summer months I prefer sleeping on a crisp percale base fabric (such as our Angel Luxe and Paradise Egyptian cotton percales), which is soft to the touch and drapes nicely on the bed. I like to pair this with our Egyptian-cotton-shelled Quiltino, perfect for the warmer months and transitional weather. It provides the ideal comfort of a lightweight quilt that can be used year-round.
“For the cooler months, I like to sleep on a nice silky sateen such as our Ori Treccia and Raso Rigato. It not only feels like heaven to the touch, but provides extra warmth, which, coupled with a coverlet and topped with a fluffy duvet, makes it impossible to want to get out of bed.
“A well-rounded bed for me also includes down pillows such as our Divino pillows—and many of them! I absolutely love the look of Euro squares with several pillows in front, a boudoir, and a neckroll as the finishing touch. Last but not least, a cashmere throw, either to have on the bed or on a chair—wrapping myself in one of our Marca throws is my personal favorite luxury any time of the day.”
Banner image: Pratesi’s Raso Rigato collection