Brunello Cucinelli is a natural born optimist; he always sees the glass half full. Even the pandemic hasn’t curbed his positive disposition, and that’s evidently paying off. His company has weathered the last two years’ hardships well, recently posting net revenues up 30.9% compared to 2020. No wonder he was upbeat at a preview in his Milanese showroom.
“Last year was a very special one for us on many levels,” he said. “First of all, we haven’t furloughed anyone, of which I’m very proud, and we haven’t canceled or stopped any investment.” It seems that the difficulties energized him rather than slowed him down. His cultural sustainability pledge, which promotes the principles of humanism throughout his company’s practices, was capped in December by the launch of a grand project: the construction of a Universal Library in Solomeo, which was inspired by no less than the Great Library of Alexandria, founded by Ptolemy I Soter around 283 BC. No shortage of ambition chez Cucinelli.
But as proud as he is of his entrepreneurial achievements, Cucinelli lights up when talking style. His eye for details is meticulous, and overseeing the styling of a collection is a creative pleasures he cherishes. “We have perfected our gusto,” he said, meaning that the Cucinelli look is recognizable around the world. He recently made clear that he wants his company to be called ;Casa di Moda, as he thinks it has earned the rights to be considered a full-fledged fashion house. The consistency of its repertoire is actually there to prove it, carried out through well considered seasonal adjustments that update its easy-formality, with no diluting of its fundamentals.
This was apparent in the fall men’s collection, which looked cohesive yet versatile enough to appeal to young people. That’s an audience which Cucinelli knows well, having two daughters involved in the company’s management. “The desire of dressing well is stronger than ever today, even for new generations,” he said. “Being beautifully turned out is a pleasure and I definitely encourage that. Elegance isn’t a passé concept at all.”
To that end, he focused on soft tailoring even more that usual, loosening proportions and fits so as to give them a dynamic spin, making precious fabrics as light as possible to enhance ease and comfort, and nipping-and-tucking here and there without detracting from his signature casually dapper allure. Among the standouts were tailored pantsuits in featherlight, soft-to-the-touch corduroy, with blazers slightly leaner and pants cut comfortably and just a tad short. Presented in the neutral palette Cucinelli favors, energized by occasional flashes of brighter hues, they looked smart worn with wispy cashmere turtlenecks or denim button-down shirts and formal ties.
“In our company, 52% of the production is made by hand,” Cucinelli said, explaining that one of the many projects he’s working on is the expansion of the artisanal schools he launched in 2013. Called Scuole di Artigianato Contemporaneo (Schools for Contemporary Craftsmanship), not only do they provide the company’s production chain with the artisans that keep Made in Italy afloat, they also give a new generation of young technicians, craftsmen, and tailors the business acumen necessary to develop their own enterprises. Who knows? Maybe one day they could become new Cucinellis. “I started my career with just a modicum of money and lots of willpower,” he said. “In life, first you learn, then you do, and then you pass the baton of your experience. You teach. At this stage of my life, I’m enjoying this immensely.”