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Loro Piana announced the opening of their newest North American store (formerly a pop-up, now made permanent) on Monday with an artistic—and altruistic—twist. Not only is the Italian brand beloved for its cashmere donating one blanket to Save the Children for every purchase made at their stores before December 24 in North America, they have unveiled their newest boutique in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District with a sculpture by Portland, Oregon-based artist and Seneca Nation citizen Marie Watt.
The artwork, called Companion Species: Acknowledgment, Blanket Stories and Generations, is composed of three statues featuring stacked blankets donated by members of the Loro Piana family, partners, and friends (including yours truly, who donated a handsome and hardy wool tartan number). “Each piece [of the sculpture] is made from a tactile material: bronze, for Acknowledgment, relating to long standing Indigenous lands; wood, for Generations, channeling environmental harmony and ancestry, and physically layered blankets for Blanket Stories, which symbolize both stewardship and heirlooms that may be passed down through the ages,” Loro Piana explained in a statement. Each of the dozens of donated blankets comes with it’s own little biographical narrative written by the giver—a list which ranges from Pier Luigi Loro Piana, to Luke Evans, Danny Meyer, Dakota Fanning, and Lesley Stahl—attached by a hanging tag, to encourage visitor interaction.
Blankets have long been a part of Loro Piana’s history: the ultra luxurious cashmere wraps aren’t just a perennially coveted holiday gift (though they definitely are that), they were among the first products the label ever produced. Add to that the fact that Watt frequently uses blankets to heavily symbolic effect in her work, and that Save the Children prizes blankets for providing warmth and comfort to newborns and young children in situations where a child might be forced into a shelter or facing extreme conditions due to disasters and emergencies, and this project weaves together everything important to the company: “textile and form with social narratives, stories of community, a duty for stewardship, and the importance of recognizing past, present and future generations,” as they put it.
Watt was “drawn to Loro Piana’s generational history and commitment to environmental stewardship,” she said in a statement. “Relationships between people, animals, and the land are intertwined, inseparable and necessary for planetary resilience for future generations. I’m also intrigued by Loro Piana’s community, which connects entities—growers, breeders, herders, artisans, and staff—across continents to create ethically sourced fibers and exquisite garments that, over time, become beloved heirloom objects."
To create your own unique heirloom, a blanket personalization service featuring seven varieties of embroidered patches featuring phrases hand sewn by Watt will be available at the store for the duration of the exhibition.
The artworks will be on display at the new store, located at 3 Ninth Avenue from December 14, 2020 to January 31, 2021.