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Sferra gets ready for its close up

Andrea Lillo -- Home Textiles Today, August 25, 2003

When the movie "Under the Tuscan Sun" opens in theaters nationwide next month, Sferra Bros. will have a starring role — at least to the extent of the movie's licensed furniture from Drexel Heritage.

The collection, called Frances Mayes At Home in Tuscany, after the author of the book "Under the Tuscan Sun," represents the first time Sferra Bros. has ventured into the retail furniture channel. Likewise, it's the first time Drexel licensed bedding for one of its collections.

"It was natural to ask their customers if they wanted the linens to coordinate with the look of the furniture, so their customers could take it all," said Paul Hooker, president, Sferra.

Starring Diane Lane and in theaters September 26, Under the Tuscan Sun adapts Mayes' best-selling memoir for the big screen, about an American divorcee who buys a villa in Tuscany.

With 300 dealers, including 30 freestanding stores, nationwide, a lot of them "bought into the furniture in a big way," said Melanie Dunn, vp, visual merchandising, Drexel Heritage, and about 25 of them also purchased the accompanying bed linens. Dunn had worked with Sferra before, and the new license was "a natural liaison."

Sferra's collection is also available to specialty linen retailers, Hooker said. Room With a View, Santa Monica, CA, is planning a Tuscan Sun event on September 18. The linens will begin shipping this week, Hooker explained.

Most of the linens are woven in Tuscany, he said, with the top-of-the-bed constructed either of Italian yarn-dyed pure linen or a linen/cotton blend. The sheeting is Sferra's 410 count Italian Egyptian cotton percale — known to traditional Sferra customers as Celeste, while in the Drexel Heritage stores they will be called Bramasole — dyed to coordinate with the top of the bed.

"I would call it the Americanized version of what the Italians would sleep on, as they would prefer linen sheeting in Italy," Hooker said. "But this is a more a top-of-the-bed story, complemented by wonderful sheets."

The collection includes four groups: Valentina, which comes in terra cotta, slate, and mustard; Amelia, available in moss; Solleone, a yellow/ivory linen combination, and Bramasole, named after Mayes' house in Cortona, Italy, where the book is based, in a stonewashed matelassé of ivory, moss and wheat. In addition, the Solleone duvet pattern is backed with the Egyptian cotton percale, for those who would prefer to sleep without sheets, he said. Decorative pillows and oversized fringed table shawls round out the collection.

"The inspiration came from the furniture and the color palette," said Hooker.

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