Skip to main content

Sometimes inspiration comes to designers from chance encounters. On a recent visit to Venice, Francesca Ruffini came upon an old painting, hung in a palazzo, depicting a nobleman dressed in elegant attire. The portrait’s charming atmosphere transported her to a dreamland of decadence and sophistication; the black and white baroque motifs of the cloak worn by the gentleman were translated into the curlicued prints of her label’s fall collection.

Ruffini is trying to expand FRS’s loungewear-inspired pajamas, kimonos and robes into a more comprehensive line, including variations on the theme without straying too far from it. “What I want to hold on to is the versatility and the sense of comfortable elegance I was drawn to in the first place when I started wearing masculine pajamas in my everyday life,” she said. This season she worked on a broader offer of dresses, whose shapes stemmed from the elongation of the classic pajama shirt, and were rendered into slender tunics, caftans and ankle-grazing T-shirts.

The Venetian thread ran throughout the collection, not only in the blow-up prints referencing the baroque tapestries of ancient palazzos, but also in the billowy capes thrown over dresses and chic pajama sets. Cloaks and tabards are historical Venetian garments: “For me, evenings in Venice are all about an elegant cape swaying in the wind of the laguna, or about a mysterious cloaked figure glimpsed in a dark calle,” Ruffini said. “Although their shape is simple, capes give off a noble, elevated allure.” They were proposed in trailing versions, cut generously in yards of printed silks and sensuous dévoré velvets.

Elsewhere, the designer indulged in sumptuous cloqué fabrics, brocades and jacquards; prints were sourced from the archives of old Venetian tapestry makes. Dresses also had something languid about them, with billowy poet sleeves, plays of ruching and velvet ribbons trailing nonchalantly. While they would look at home in a decadent interior, their shapes were modern and linear, comfortable, fit for any body type and age. Ruffini is clearly a rather practical dreamer.