The label that began with a loan and a tiny shop in Sardinia in 1979 has metamorphosed into a fashion stalwart. Mr. Cucinelli started out with a simple idea, selling locally produced cashmere sweaters in a wide variety of colors to an exclusive European crowd, hanging on the streets of Milan, via the slopes of Gstaad, all the way to London. (Royalty approves. Prince William wore Cucinelli cashmere to cuddle up to Kate Middleton in their official engagement portraits shot by Mario Testino.)
By the early 1980s, the designer was frequently burning the midnight oil dispatching bespoke orders of 100 units or more to fulfill demand. According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, he reached the magic number in 2013, with a net worth of at least 1 billion—at age 59. Growth of his public company is in the double digits.
“I’m as happy now as I was when the business began,” he added. “After the success of our sweaters, our only products until 2000, we decided to create a brand with a total look for a certain kind of lifestyle. Our colors take inspiration from our landscapes, culture and art. If you look at the Italian countryside, you will see browns, beiges and white, a natural palette reflected in our collections. I also believe in having a product that is not too widely distributed. Through carefully created retail environments, we retain our exclusivity.” The New York store is one of the brand’s most successful; Bergdorf-Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue and Barneys also sell the line.
The look announces that one is in charge but doesn’t need to button up. Cucinelli devotees are as diverse as Bradley Cooper, Jay Z, Daniel Craig and Prince William. Women love Cucinelli’s easy take on dressy glamour, too. Blake Lively is frequently photographed wearing his handiwork, and Kim Kardashian miraculously covered her curves in Cucinelli last fall when she emerged from her maternity blackout. Somebody very helpfully chose a camel, cashmere Cucinelli coat for her to wear as she stalked Parisian sidewalks with Carine Roitfeld. “We pay attention to and are inspired by young people,” adds the designer. “We want to be contemporary while maintaining our high standards of quality.”
Downtowners head to the Bleecker Street flagship but the Madison Avenue outpost buzzes too. “New York is a place that’s somehow aware of its own modern style,” Mr. Cucinelli said. “I like adapting our made-in-Italy knowledge and experience to fit that.”
Those three words, “made in Italy,” are not incidental to the brand—they are the brand. Every single piece is made in Solomeo, the medieval Umbrian hamlet Mr. Cucinelli bought in the late ’80s and transformed into a glorious fashion farm, long before sustainability was a buzzword.
Mr. Cucinelli calls it a “humanistic factory.” Craftsmen and women work in converted village buildings brought up to date as state-of the-art workshops. Everyone eats lunch together with Mr. Cucinelli each day. “Employees are treated as preciously as the clothes they create,” he said. “I realized that economic value is worthless without human value; one could not exist without the other.”
The designer has succeeded in sticking not only to his word but to his vision. His style transcend the mercurial rules of seasonal fashion. Mr. Cucinelli nails it every time.
wearing Cucinelli Pants and Sweater and its so easy to mix it with other brands)
Stay Warm Guys spring is on the way)