In the Loop on Luxury Linens
Looking beyond thread count
May. 4, 2005 03:00 PM
Selecting the right linens is an emotional as well as a tactile experience. Here, a guide to the finest linens in the world and the criteria used to evaluate them.
What are the brand names on the labels of some of the finest linens on the market today? Immediately the greatest names in the history of the industry come to mind.
Yves Delorme is the leader of the pack with over 150 years of established quality and excellence, followed by Frette in 1860, and Sferra Bros. in 1898. All have established a reputation for quality and excellence through the use of the finest natural fibers and craftsmanship available. Suppliers of luxurious linens to royalty and the most affluent in the world, these companies set a standard – and pretty stiff competition – for those that would follow. Then along came Anichini.
An American-owned business, Anichini is run by Susan Dollenmaier, the CEO and founder. She is a designer with a knowledge and sensibility for the quality and elegance required to compete with the big boys. Old-world craftsmanship, with the charm of classic lines, modern style, and robust colors, has put Anichini on the map. After 20 years, Anichini has also established a reputation for supplying luxury linens to yachts and private aircraft, modern-day royalty, and A-list celebrities.
The foremost common factor in luxury linens is 100% Egyptian cotton. Fine cotton equals fine linen. Why Egyptian cotton? Egypt is unique in its year-round moderate climate, which is absolutely perfect for cotton cultivation. The quality of cotton depends on the individual fibers or staples. The longer the staple, the better the cotton. Egyptian cotton is considered to be the longest staple cotton and has worldwide recognition for its superior quality.
If thread count was the only determining factor, then Sferra Bros. would win hands-down with a 1020-thread count for their top bed-linen line. Thread count is based on the number of horizontal and vertical threads in one square inch of material. The higher the thread count, the softer the fabric. Finer yarns can be made only with long staple cotton. The yarn size relates to the thread count because when the yarn is very fine it is actually thinner, with more per square inch, producing a high thread count. It is then woven on what are considered to be the finest looms by the finest weavers in the world into a soft, lustrous, luxurious fabric.
The finishing process also plays a role, and is extremely important to the touch factor. Treatments used during the weaving process must be removed. The finishing process will maintain the color brightness by preserving the natural cellulose of the fiber, resulting in a smooth and silky end result.
What is the most luxurious linen in the world? It really is a very personal selection. You know that the top players use only the finest 100% Egyptian cotton with the longest staples. They produce the finest threads to yield the highest thread counts, which range from 200–1020! Now it becomes emotional. How does it feel?
Which weave do you prefer? A satin weave is soft, and silk-like in touch and appearance. Or do you prefer the classic, crisp linen weave? Next, consider what style of pattern appeals to you, and what color.
Anichini’s 600-thread count Villa D’Este collection offers 12 patterns, classic hemstitch, damask, jacquard, or paisley, for example, and a choice of 29 colors. Sferra Bros.’ Amante, Millesimo, and Baronessa – their top 1020 thread–count linen sheets – offer a selection of three patterns and three colors: ivory, white, or honey.
Price tag? They are all competitively priced: a basic king set starts at about $1,050.