Brunello Cucinelli blends eras and textures in a soulful collection tailor-made for Hamptonites.
At a time when many leading fashion designers count grunge plaid and episodes of Friends among their historical references, Brunello Cucinelli continues to seek inspiration from the likes of Socrates and Seneca, Aristotle and Alexander the Great. His base of operations is Solomeo, Italy—the centuries-old hilltop hamlet that he has painstakingly renovated into a cashmere-lined company town—where some 1,000 employees eschew trends in pursuit of beauty, humanity and truth. But a luxury empire (Cucinelli’s eponymous company posted 2017 revenues of €504 million, about $579 million at current exchange) does not live on tradition alone.
“Let’s use the most innovative technologies that the universe has given us, but let’s use them in a considerate way,” says Cucinelli, whose fall/winter 2018 womenswear collection combines a signature reverence for antiquity and artisanal workmanship with “inspirations that freely travel on the Web.”
Anyone who may doubt Cucinelli’s ability to conjure clothes in which, he explains, “projections into the future and primordial echoes nonchalantly coexist” need only consult his Instagram account (@brunellocucinelli), where on one day he can be seen visiting Apple headquarters and on another embracing the cast of a production of The Master and Margarita mounted at his Renaissance-inspired Cucinelli Theatre in Solomeo.
Hand-knit cardigan, $8,895, silk shirt, $2,175, and jersey top, $445, all at Brunello Cucinelli.
With his knack for straddling disparate worlds and a nod to what he describes as the “mild mysticism” that permeates his beloved Umbria, Cucinelli dubbed his fall/winter womenswear range “folk alchemy.” Softened silhouettes constructed with everyday comfort in mind are transformed by the collection’s sensuous materials (led by velvet, which illuminates everything from tailored jackets to evening gowns) and burnished tones, and take on new identities when paired with classic menswear suiting. Think Annie Hall goes to Aspen.
“Even elements which are traditionally linked to a strict and sober elegance find new, eclectic freedoms in this collection,” says Cucinelli, eyeing the delicate touches of tulle, lace and georgette that are counterbalanced by voluminous alpaca.
As he quietly celebrates the 40th anniversary of his adventure in “humanistic capitalism” (which includes earmarking 20 percent of annual profits “for humanity” and running a tuition-free arts school), Cucinelli delights in his idiosyncratic yet undeniably successful mission, which transcends the creation of sublime apparel in a utopian setting. “We are living in a fascinating time for mankind. I believe that the internet is a gift,” he says. “But I also think that we must in some way manage this technology so it does not take away our soul.”