By Dominique Emmen
Castellucchio, Italy –Just outside of Mantova, a city that seems to have stood still since the middle ages, the Pasotti umbrella firm is situated in Castellucchio, where Ernesta Pasotti started her namesake company of handcrafted umbrellas in 1956. A company where her legacy lives on in her grandchildren Nicola and Andrea Begotti.
Together, they are charting the future of the grandmother’s company and propelling it into the 21st century, via social media and travels to trade shows to boost Pasotti’s reputation for Italian excellence worldwide. Testament to their efforts, the family’s hand crafted umbrellas, known for their whimsical woodwork, have been embraced by A-list stars like JLo and Madonna, who famously donned the family’s lion-head cane in one of her music videos.
Nicola manages the commercial affairs of the company, and Andrea, a skilled-craftsmen in his own right, works inside the atelier with his mother and father, sculpting the ornate metal shafts with various types of wood like bamboo or chestnut.
The meeting room of the company was an oasis of umbrellas, canes and shoehorns. From left to right, a shift was apparent from a more aggressive rock style – skulls, reptiles and dragons – to a softer, feminine side of birds, bees and floral prints. Andrea explained that besides their online catalogue and presence at trade shows, clients can visit the factory. They can customize and order their own bespoke Pasotti item, choosing from a variety of prints, handles, colours and materials.
One of their bestsellers is a flower-inspired umbrella that is characterized by gradient colour patterns and a double-fabric technique that covers the metal ribbing. Every time Andrea opened one of the umbrellas, it was a projection of petals, feathers and animalesque prints. Another peculiar piece was a peacock-inspired umbrella with Swarovski crystals, worth €360.
“I can spend the whole day in this room” Andrea smiled before heading to the workshop.
When every umbrella is double-checked, the bespoke pieces are ready to be shipped worldwide. Andrea mentioned that whilst China remains the biggest market for Pasotti, Japan has the highest demand for lace-trimmed parasols, “The parasols are a bit smaller than the umbrellas, but made with the same fabric, so they are water-resistant as well”. In addition, they recently opened a new mono brand store in Seoul and have a small office in Beverly Hills with a small selection of products mainly for Hollywood stars.
“One day Meryl Streep wrote us an email with a special request. She wanted a Pasotti umbrella for her birthday and we sent it to her in one day” Andrea said.
“Each umbrella takes more or less the same time to make, but when a client wants Swarovski crystals, I hand sew every crystal one by one on the fabric. So of course that takes longer” Andrea explained.
Pasotti produces about 100 umbrellas daily — each one characterized by Italian quality and style and influenced by Mantova’s everlasting romantic nature.
“We design together. When someone has an idea, we start to experiment and create, and finally we find the solution” Andrea proudly stated.
HEADQUARTERS: Via Roma n.77 – 46014, Castellucchio (MN)
AVERAGE PRICE: €200
WHERE TO BUY: Take a look on the website, click here