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Home: Sleeping Beauty

Nancy A. Ruhling

Sferra Fine Linens has created bedding so precious that you might hesitate to lie on it. The Burano sets—each comprising one ivory fitted sheet, one ivory flat sheet, and two pillowcases—are made from 1,020-thread-count, Italian-woven Egyptian cotton. More significantly, they incorporate Point de Venice lace, a centuries-old style of embroidery that the company, which now has its headquarters in Edison, N.J., used in its earliest products, when it was based in Venice, Italy. The bedding is named for the island near Venice, where women have been making the lace since the 16th century.

“It takes four months to make enough lace for each [bedding] ensemble,” says Sferra president Paul Hooker, describing much of the reason why the sets are priced from $14,000 to $15,000 (queen and king). “And we don’t know how many sets we will make. We hope to have five by the end of the year.”

Hooker, who, with his brother-in-law, George Matouk, bought the company in 1977 from the Sferra family, says making Point de Venice lace is a lost art. “It’s hand-needle lace, not bobbin lace. I went back to Burano and found four elderly women who agreed to make it exclusively for us for a very limited time.” Using vintage lace from Sferra’s archives, he explains, “we came up with an updated design that brings back all the heritage of our company.”

That heritage began in 1891 in Venice, where Gennaro Sferra created elaborate cuffs and collars, some of which included the Point de Venice lace. By the early 1900s, Sferra had a factory in Venice and, owing to his transatlantic travels, a wealthy clientele in the eastern United States. When his sons, Albert and Enrico, took over the family business in the 1940s, they added table and bed linens to its offerings.

Sferra Fine Linens is introducing the Burano bedding as it celebrates its 115th anniversary. With proper care, including laundering by hand, a Burano set could last as long as the company has. “This is an heirloom,” says Hooker. “It’s like any other piece of art or heirloom that can’t be duplicated. It’s made to be passed down from one generation to the next.”

Sferra Fine Linens
800.336.1891
www.sferralinens.com

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