Above all, it’s an amazing story. Brunello Cucinelli, the enlightened entrepreneur who attained fame with his cashmere, and later decided to create a new head office near Perugia, in Umbria. Not a steel and glass office block, but a 14th century castle surrounded by a hilltop village, lovingly restored. In more recent years, he has gone on to give the village a theatre, a library, gardens and an amphitheatre. A man whose prime concern is the wellbeing of his employees, and whose approach to fashion is a constant quest for beauty.
The fall/winter 2014-15 women’s collection is all about beauty, created by materials that run from his classic cashmere to include a textured, silvery fabric called monile, tulle, silk, cashmere fur and much more. The looks are built from a combination of shapes and layers, and there is special attention to styles derived from men’s fashion. Male classics such as evening tails, dinner jacket and waistcoat are translated into women’s garments, giving the wearer that sort of metropolitan dandy appearance that we have already seen in Brunello Cucinelli’s men’s collection for the same season.
The spectacular thing about this fashion is the detail. Brunello Cucinelli takes a male item, the tie, and turns it into something very different and very female, giving it two layers: a base of glittering monile, and then fluffy mink. This, worn open, becomes the finishing touch around a neckline that is already a fascinating combination of layers, perhaps with a tuxedo jacket over a wing-collar blouse. He applies the same procedure to trousers, which have turn-ups, and are higher on the waist, making them comfy and dynamic. Like the whole collection, suitable for use in the day, but also in the evening.
Other details provide extra touches of glamour. Flowers are made in Swarovski crystal, or assembled from laser-cut silk, or used as buttons on blouses. Fur is an important part of this collection, more than in previous years, used above all for its ability to create volume and a sense of sophistication. The colours are Brunello Cucinelli’s classic cashmere tones of ochre, raw and burnt umber, grey and black, but in this collection there is a swing towards lighter shades, and there is a lot of white. Overall, it’s a super-detailed, super-accessorized collection, from which you can take entire outfits, or individual items: above all, it is a perfect blueprint for a dynamic way of dressing that keeps you looking and feeling great from morning to night.
Some of the garments were embellished by a single word: Soul. Because this is what matters most to Brunello Cucinelli: beauty is not just on the outside, but inside. You can’t help thinking of parallels with the Italian Renaissance, above all Duke Federico da Montefelto, born in Umbria (like Brunello), and whose tiny city-state Urbino became an oasis for culture and the arts. Unlike most of Italy’s despotic rulers who were in constant fear of assassination, Federico could stroll in the streets of his city without a bodyguard, and took a personal interest in his citizens’ wellbeing. He is celebrated in many Renaissance masterpieces, such as the Brera altarpiece by Piero della Francesca. A painting in which the androgynous angels bear an uncanny resemblance to the lovely models at the Brunello Cucinelli presentation: flawless Quattrocento beauty.