Weavers Combine High Tech and European Craftsmanship
Paul Bianculli and Victor de la Rosa share the same musical tastes (Sade, Joni Mitchell and Mozart). Over a recent lunch, they ordered the same “spa” selection, then picked at curried carrot soup and banana puree.
These two master weavers also share a hope that their San Francisco-based menswear firm, Bianculli, be known for European craftsmanship, not Northern California chic.
“There’s a strong Italian influence in our lives,” 27-year-old Victor says. “I read Italian magazines. And Paul is Italian.”
Still relatively small (the firm expects sales this year of $325,000), Bianculli won the 1985 Cutty Sark Award for most promising designers, a requisite honor of designers on the rise. They came to Neiman-Marcus recently to show their spring line of intricately woven sweaters, jackets and sportswear.
The collection, based on geometric patterns in pastels and brights, grew out of the team’s usual “fights and debates,” says Paul, 34, the senior half of the partnership.
It started when Paul decided he needed some help at the loom.
A native of Queens, N.Y., he migrated to San Francisco by way of Canada in the late 1960s. He took up designing fabric for a Northern California women’s sportswear firm. When orders became too large, he hired Victor, a textile student at San Francisco State.
Five years later, they are partners in the expanding menswear line.
It was Victor alone, however, who took home an Apple II computer manual early last year, searching for ways to expand their design techniques. He linked a computer to the loom, creating more complex, often reversible woven patterns for Bianculli’s sweaters and jackets.
Now Victor calls his greatest inspiration “technology in action. A new variegated dyed yarn--I mean, we get excited.”
Paul and Victor also find ideas in the street fashions of East L.A. and San Francisco.
“Imagine this. A pair of Size 42 khaki pants, on a Size 32 guy. An extra large Brooks Brothers shirt,” says Victor. “And the kids are into piercing. They’re wearing a lot of earrings.”
For spring, Bianculli adds woven shirts, slacks and some extroverted polka-dot boxer shorts to their multiyarn sweaters--all produced in a loft overlooking the Bay.
Paul notes that they plan to add upholstery and home furnishings to their repertoire.