My obsession with sheets can be traced back to the days when I stayed in fancy hotels as a fashion editor, traveling the world and learning a little too much about things like thread count and Egyptian cotton. At places like the Four Seasons in Milan, fashion-editor colleagues would argue fervently about the subtle differences between Frette and Pratesi, or some crazy-expensive Milanese place on the Via San Andrea that sold hand-embroidered linen sheets — you know, the place where Donatella Versace bought her bed linens.
At first I ignored these conversations. What did I care about sheets? I’d spent most of my young adulthood sleeping on a few sets of striped oxford cloth Polo Ralph Lauren sheets I’d picked up at a Bloomingdale’s white sale. Besides, I was too busy fretting over my next byline (or, worse, outfit) to notice the thread count at the Four Seasons.
Then I spent a week at a French friend’s house in the south of France. The guest rooms were made up in beautifully colored Indian block-print sheets in pale shades of lilac and celadon. They were slightly worn and smooth and cool to the touch in the August heat. The cottony lightweight quilts my friend had placed at the foot of every bed were by the same designer. John Robshaw, I would later learn, had started out studying textile printing in China before he discovered the block-printing traditions of Indian artisans. He now spends several months each year traveling in India, working on his line of hand-printed sheets, pillows, and quilts, all made of Indian cotton. At $195 for a queen fitted sheet, Robshaw’s bedding can be pricey (although different patterns often go on sale), but the soft cotton and unusual colors and the way that each pattern evokes an exotic Rajasthan dreamscape make them worth it. They also last forever, though owning one set inevitably makes you yearn for more.
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