Last week I spent two days in Milan immersed in the world of high end fabrics with Rubelli. The family-run Venetian textiles company was established in 1889 and is now run by fifth-generation Nicolò Rubelli.
I was there as part of a European press trip including British, French and German journalists for a party at the new showroom at via Fatebenefratelli, 9 and to visit the Rubelli mill in Cucciago, Como. The mill was bought in 1985 and has 28 (incredibly loud) jacquard machines producing over half a million metres of fabric a year.
There are a few 18th century hand looms still in operation, but on a very limited basis with only one highly skilled - and irreplaceable - weaver. To the untrained eye the difference between hand and machine-made fabrics is hard to spot, but I'm told it's all in the feel.