When most people hear fresco they will probably think of a certain painting type which is found on plaster, ceilings or walls. The word fresco is derived from the Italian affresco which means as much as “fresh”. This describes perfectly the technique because the color has to be applied to the plaster as long as it is wet.
Last year, I had the chance to see the world’s largest ceiling fresco (677 m² or 7287 ft²) which is in fact quite impressive and hence was inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List on 30th October 1981.
J. & J. Minnis And The Fresco Fabric
However, people interested in fine clothing are much more likely to associate a rather different thing with the term fresco – in fact a certain kind of cloth.
J. & J. Minnis , a cloth manufactuerer, seems to own a trademark for the Fresco® fabric which they advertise as the “ultimate cool garment”. Considering its purpose, the name fresco = fresh makes perfect sense. In German speaking countries, it is also known as Fresko.
What is Fresco?
Now, the question arises what exactly a fresco fabric is and why it wears so cool. Fresco is generally made of multiple yarn, high twisted wool and has a plain weave. The high twist allows for an open weave which makes the fabric very airy in the sense that you can feel any breeze. Also due to its high twist, it has a rather coarse feel to it and a rather hard touch. At the same time, this makes for a very dense and durable fabric. Nowadays, fresco weights range from 8oz–15oz per yard (248g–465g per metre) while the fresco cloth from the 1950s was usually between 11 oz -18oz (341g -558g per metre).
Fresco Color And Patterns
Because of the open weave, the fresco fabric in lightweight quality can be almost see-through, especially if you look at the fabric against the light. In order to cover that up a little bit, fresco has usually not just regular a plain color but much rather a wealth of nuances that help to make it look less see through. Unfortunately, there are not too many patterned frescos available – most have this slightly mottled plain color. For example, J. & J. Minnis only offers a few strips and one Prince of Wales Check. The London Lounge Cloth Club has its own fresco fabrics called Brisa which are sometimes rather special like this Prince of Wales check with overplaid.
Drape And Feel
However, if you prefer a better drape, you probably want to go with a slightly heavier version. Even in summer, the open weave will make it very comfortable to wear, especially if it is windy. Plus, the heavier the fresco gets, the more difficult it is to see through the fabric.
The drape will also help you to order an unlined fresco suit which will even amplify the cooling effect. While this is great during hot summer days, it can be a quite uncomfortable at the end or the beginning of summer because it gets too cool. When the sun is gone and there is just a little breeze you will feel it immediately. Therefore, fresco is absolutely not suited for a year round suit or coat. However, if you are permanently too hot, you should definitely try an unlined fresco garment.
Fresco – The Ideal Cloth for Travel
Fresco does not only have a coarse hand and a dense structure but it is also a very hard wearing, durable fabric.
With all these characteristics Fresco fabric can be considered as the ideal travel cloth during the warmer months of the year.
A Fresco Summer Outfit
Shirt: Blue and WhiteStriped Tessitura Monti Fabric – by J. Hilburn
Tie: navy repp silk tie, rather narrow with interesting lining by Blick
Belt: black calf leather – Montblanc
Suit: fresco wool in slightly mottled mid grey – by A. Caraceni
Pocket Square: white linen with blue edges – made in Italy
Shoes: black calf leather – Church’s
Socks: over the calf socks, mid grey cotton – by Bresciani