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Yeshica Indra

Fashion business 2.2 Comix Essay

“When a suit takes 186 steps and about 18 hours to be crafted, you know it's going to fit right.”

THE ADRIATIC ISLANDS WITH ITS HEAVENLY ARCHIPELAGO FACING THE ISTRIAN COAST WAS ONCE A LUXURY DESTINATION BY THE EUROPEAN ARISTOCRATS WHO IN THE EARLY 1900S SOUGHT AN EXCLUSIVE DESTINATION TO GO HORSEBACK RIDING, GOLF AND POLO. IT WAS THIS RESORT ISLAND THAT BECAME THE ICON OF A SMALL ROMAN TAILOR SHOP THAT WOULD LEAVE MENSWEAR TO NEVER BE THE SAME. After the traumatic Second World War in 1945, a few years after the Canali brothers set up their own tailoring workshop – An Abruzzo-born master tailor, Nazareno Fonticoli and charismatic entrepreneur, Gaetano Savini began to shape the dream of Italian’s men high fashion. These two avant-garde men left their jobs at a gentlemen’s boutique on Via del Corso to set their shared vision of making the most of the widespread yearning for post-war hope and optimism. In nearby Via Barberini, they set up their own elegant store complete with a tailoring workshop that they ambitiously named Brioni that is the playground for the rich and famous that represented life before war and what it could be again. The Italians knew Brioni was the epitome of the best life had to offer and that is what the two men wanted their costumers to think when they hear their label name. The two men realized that they had to compete in a very competitive market and to be successful they had to be very different from all the fashion houses by being the best in men’s tailoring. They are one of the few menswear houses that truly do a bespoke. Bespoke is totally different from made-to-measure. According to Brioni’s ex-chairman, Umberto Angeloni, "Bespoke is where the suit is made from your measurements exclusively, from scratch. We still do this, in Milan and Rome. Everyone now says they do bespoke, but what they mean is made-to-measure. That is where an existing suit design is adapted to your shape". Completely hand-tailored suit was the rule with Brioni. There are more than 5 thousand different fabrics to choose from. Built around 25 thousand different combinations, they are able to create a total customized look. Not only Brioni customized their suits to an individual's body proportions and taste, but also even to their professions, discreet and often unspoken needs. Additional features like secret pockets, special flower buttonholes along and flawless lifelong service distinguish this house from all the others in the field. Dozens of people come together to create a Brioni suit. There is no space for error as each people are a specialist in their individual fields: design, stitching, ironing, and testing. Every detail is carefully worked on with a ritual that was passed

from one generation to the next. Each thread, buttonholes and lapels are always in the right place. Each garment is unique and not a millimeter removed from how and where they should be. But at the end of the war, there were very few people who could afford to buy designer clothes and as a result they have to appeal to a much larger market to make a name for themselves. The Americans were the ones with the money and they were the ones that Brioni set out to conquer. Savini who holds the marketing end of the partnership had connections and strategies that appealed to the upper crust of the society. So while Fonticoli was the one doing most of the hands on work, Savini brought Brioni to a larger audience. In 1952 in Florence, he co-staged the world’s first men’s tailored clothing show, showing 40 of the firm’s suits, plus accessories including handmade shoes that were nicknamed ‘foot gloves’. As part of the collection, Brioni debuted a tuxedo in black shantung silk, a material that before then was only used for the inner linings of coats. Eager American buyers snapped up that particular coat proving the success of the complimentary partnership between the two men. Fonticoli and Savini see that the London cut were too formal, so they introduced a touch of color in the collections and different fittings. Big-framed men gained a certain sophisticated charm only by Brioni’s slim and discreet "Columnar" silhouette. Cut radically slim about the waist with a long, flattering drape coupled with narrow, fitted shoulders, meant that Brioni could experiment daringly in terms of fabrics and colors, using silks and brocades in menswear for the first time. The New York Times called a “postgraduate version of the ‘Ivy Leaguer’” look with its narrow and tapered silhouette. This led to the elegant feel and luxury that has remained the trademark of a contemporary Brioni suit. This Brioni’s ‘Roman Style’, represented an extravagant of masculine elegance was kind of the male version of Christian Dior’s 1947 Parisian ‘New Look’. So on 1957, Brioni added a touch of color to formalwear: the Hess collection. Their double-breasted coats, winter coats or hunting coats in bold shades of red, yellow and green, were completely radical to the somber grey palette that symbolized the depressed economical atmosphere of wartime Europe. By the mid-1950s, Via Barberini had become men’s high fashion. Americans flocked to the Rome, as it became the popular vacation spot for the wealthy. Brioni became the chosen wardrobe that attracted the attention high-profile Hollywood actors. Cary Grant, Clark Gable and John Wayne, naming a few – became faithful customers and highly visible

spokesmen for Brioni. As a result, without the need or desire to advertise, demand increased so much by word of mouth that by 1959, the workshop located above the lavish Via Barberini store had become not enough to handling orders with its 90 employees. So the decision was made to relocate production to Penne Tailoring District, a small town in Abruzzo. Brioni started the world’s first factory-sized sartorial workshops where Fonticoli personally convinced enough local craftsmen of Brioni’s revolutionary ‘serial production’ concept. Which simply meant that individual tailors handsew jackets and trousers before adding the finishing touches by machine. The same level of handiwork was maintained for each suit, ready-to-wear or made-to-measure but in a much shorter time, so that the company was able to complete vast orders. While Fonticoli consolidated the company’s tailors at the Penne factory, Savini continued to take Brioni on the road. A pro at marketing and social networking, Savini toured Brioni throughout America. In 1952, putting on shows in Atlanta, Boston, Virginia, Minnesota, Chicago and New York he heavily promoted the firm’s innovative ‘Columnar Look’. Savini then became the darling of the fashion media and the unofficial spokesman for Italians menswear. The American press corps championed him as the “Caesar of Style”, “King of Fashion and “Men’s Dior”. One example of Savini’s cutting edge methods is in 1964, he famously presented a menswear show at New York’s historic Waldorf-Astoria hotel, flooding the stage with ankle-deep water as models lounge at a pretend cocktail party. In April 1957, invited by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Commerce, Brioni mounted a fashion show at the prestigious Park Lane Hotel in Manhattan. That Park Lane show initiated a uproar for Continental styling in the United States, began the domination of the Italians over the English in menswear. It also created the Peacock Revolution of the '60s and '70s, when men started opening their wardrobes to more colors and new combination of color-ways and accessories. In 1960s, Savini and Fonticoli made their mark as the world’s ambassadors of Italian sartorial excellence. Building a strong company identity, they keep ahead of the new fashion and revolutions by radical approaches. In London 1959, they showcased butter-coloured buckskin coats, in 1961 reversible astrakhan coats and checked cloaks, in 1970 a space-age, Futurist-inspired green and beige outfit. Brioni with increasing success embrace this knowledge and began offering a “total look” enhanced with men’s

"But why shouldn't men be more colorful? Why can't a man be elegant without being either dull or foppish? That's what we're interested in. Why, for example, couldn't a man wear a suit of silk shantung, and why couldn't it be in a flattering pastel shade, or rich tobacco brown? Or perhaps a cream-andchocolate minicheckhoundstooth business suits in a super-lightweight tropical worsted? Why not? - Savini

accessories by giving the tie its own line. Brioni also has a fragrance line that started with “Good Luck” that was launched a year after the Hess collection to celebrate the spirit of the times. Brioni’s other men’s grooming products included “Brionissimo” men’s fragrance, “Brioni” after-shave in limited editions. The fragrance comes in bottles made in glass of superior quality nearing the brilliance of crystal produced by master glassblowers in Empoli presented in a beautiful leather case made entirely by hand with the finest Italian leather that’s also used by Brioni for its leather good lines. The following decade, the Nazareno Fonticoli Scuola Superiore di Sartoria tailoring school opened in 1985. Teaching the ancient sartorial skill to a new generation. The course was broken down into a 4-year apprenticeship before a tailor are allowed to handle actual fabric for clients, and it would take two years of honing before a seamstress is allowed to punch a buttonhole. And it is rumored that students must be able to create a suit blindfolded. The 220 phases needed to produce a Brioni garment became a cultural code. In 1990 when Umberto Angeloni took over as Chief Executive Officer an expansion plan was started. Shops opening in locations such as Mumbai, St. Petersburg, and Baku and the Penne factory enlarged to hold 700 employees. Purchasing the Burini and Ciceri shirt factories and Sforza leather-goods shop, Brioni expanded to new products and materials. In addition, a world of sportswear was established. 1955 marked the opening of the New York boutique and publication of the book Brioni, fifty years of style – crowning half century of extraordinary work. Also 1995, Angeloni made the arrangement for Brioni suits to be James Bond’s tuxedo of choice, lasting 10 years up until the 2006’s Casino Royale. In 2001, Angeloni introduced a womenswear line. The line is based with the same tailored look that a lady accompanying a Brioni man is likely to wear. And while doing so, keeping in mind its own long heritage of impeccable quality. But it never had the cachet of the Brioni men's suit, worn by presidents, moguls, celebrities and figures from Nelson Mandela to James Bond. Brioni is all about a sense of ageless style. The house does not follow the frantic passage of trends supported by other brands, because in the two months, several fittings and the minimum of 185 steps it takes to make a suit, the age of a fashion in the fashion world is almost over. A typical Brioni handmade suit would go through at least 30-35 hours of work. 10 hours of sewing by hand, 18 hours of craftsmanship for buttons and so on and 42 stages of ironing. This is why

Lindy Hemming, the costume designer for Bond throughout this period, says of the attitude and ethics of the house of Brioni: “They were absolutely open to any sort of idea. They have a lifetime of making clothes for presidents and politicians, and they don't have that thing that they can't change what is going on. Whether it be 13 inside pockets, or one jacket with no vents and another that needs to open down the back".

Brioni is never out of fashion, serving only an exclusive 25 thousand elite clientele such as Kofi Annan, Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump and Richard Gere. Even New York crime boss of the Gambino crime family John Gotti earned the nickname Dapper Don after his extensive wardrobe of custom Brioni suits. As of January 2007, Brioni owned 25 boutiques, a further 13 franchised stores. Seven of the boutiques are in the United States. Brioni's New York showrooms are located on 52nd Street and 57th Street in Manhattan. In the USA Brioni garments can be purchased at high-end department stores including Saks Fifth Avenue, Barneys New York, Bergdorf Goodman, Wilkes Bashford and Neiman Marcus. Universally recognized as the most prestigious luxury brand in the men’s fashion, Brioni's 900 tailors create 200 models in different styles and sizes every year. An off the peg suit costs about 5 thousand dollar at the entry-level; and most customtailored suits range from six to forty-six thousand dollars. As of February of 2009, Brioni is currently offering a 43 thousand dollar genuine white gold stitched pinstripe suit made of the some of the world's most rare fabrics including the astronomically high-priced wool of the vicuùa, a rare South American relative of the llama since all Brioni clothing is made by hand, they are able to manipulate the softest, lightest fabrics available, even luxurious cloths that could never be used for machine-made clothing.

The Brioni Polo Club was the very first Italian polo club, established in 1924. The polo player on the poster for the Brioni Islands has always been featured on the lining of the jackets. Brioni to re-propose the polo theme as a symbol of elegance in the fashion and in the regions in which it has played a major role. The fashion house has organized three Brioni Polo Classic competitions and participated in the Cartier Polo World Cup on Snow in St Moritz. It has also created a small polo collection, for both players and fans of the sport, gentlemen and experts who share a common love of this unrivalled sport.

Known for its ultimate quality and personal service, style, perfection of cut and fine detailing, Brioni's commitment to making fine hand-tailored men continues. While it is said that a man need not spend a lot to look like a million bucks, the truth is it helps. A suit from Brioni represents the good life, suave charm, poise, individuality and more.

By Yeshica Indra Fashion Business 2.2 Brioni came together with Four Seasons hotel in Milan to create a suite located on their top floor. A short distance from the Milanese headquarters, it is the only hotel in the group in the entire world to offer a suite with a unique design. Created by Brioni architects and interior designers for guests. It was designed to convey the feeling of a stay in a private home rather than a hotel room.

As a   newly-­‐liberated   Rome   collected   itself   in   1945   after   the   traumatic   experience   of   Mussolini’s  Fascism,  the  Second  World  War  and  the  Eternal  City’s  occupation  by  the   Nazis,   two   avant-­‐garde   sartorialists   –   an   Abruzzi-­‐born   master   tailor,   Narazreno   Fonticoli,   and   charismatic   salesman,   Gaetano   Savini   –   left   their   jobs   at   a   gentlemen’s  boutique  on  Via  del  Corso  to  set  up  their  own  elegant  store,  complete   with   tailoring   workshop   in   nearby   Via   Barberini.   As   it   transpired   menswear   would   never  be  the  same.  Ambitiously  calling  the  fashion  house  Brioni,  after  the  Adriatic   islands  of  the  same  name  favored  as  a  luxury  destination  by  European  aristocrats,   the   entrepreneurs   shared   a   vision   to   capitalize   on   the   ever-­‐pervasive   hunger   for   post-­‐war  hope  and  optimism.  Their  agents  of  change  were  exquisitely  hand-­‐tailored   garments   –   double-­‐breasted   coats,   winter   coats,   hunting   coats   –   in   bold,   extroverted  hues  of  red,  yellow  and  green,  tones  antithetical  to  the  one-­‐dimensional   and   somber   grey   palette   that   epitomized   the   depressed,   frugal   atmosphere   of   wartime   Europe.   Brioni’s   suiting,   cut   radically   slim   about   the   waist   with   a   long,   flattering   drape   coupled   with   narrow,   fitted   shoulders,   propelled   men   onto   the   streets   of   Rome   with   a   reclaimed,   renewed   pride   and   a   sense   of   peacockery.   ‘Brioni   Roman  Style’,  as  it  came  to  be  known,  represented  an  extravagant  and  idiosyncratic   sally  forth  in  the  arena  of  masculine  elegance  –  the  male  yang  to  the  feminine  ying   of  Christian  Dior’s  1947  Parisian  ‘New  Look’.   Gaetano  Savini,  switched  on  to  the  benefits  of  taking  Brioni  to  a  larger  audience,  co-­‐ staged  the  world’s  first  men’s  tailored  clothing  show  in  1952  in  Florence,  showcasing   40   of   the   firm’s   suits,   plus   accessories   including   handmade   shoes   that   were   nicknamed   ‘foot   gloves’.   It   was   an   auspicious   moment.   As   part   of   the   collection,   Brioni   debuted   a   tuxedo   in   black   shantung   silk,   a   material   until   then   only   used   for   the   inner   linings   of   coats,   that   was   snapped   up   by   eager   American   buyers.   The   world’s  enduring  love  affair  with  the  Brioni  tuxedo  was  kindled,  which  included  a  10-­‐ year  stint  as  James  Bond’s  tuxedo  of  choice,  lasting  from  1995  up  until  2006’s  Casino   Royale  (a  certain  T.  Ford  has  the  current  contract).   By   the   mid-­‐1950s,   Via   Barberini   had   become   the   Mecca   for   men’s   high   fashion.   Americans,   including   high-­‐profile   Hollywood   actors   –   Cary   Grant,   Clark   Gable   and   John   Wayne,   to   name   but   a   few   –   flocked   to   the   Rome   atelier   in   droves.   Demand   increased  so  much  that  by  1959,  the  Barberini  workshop,  situated  above  the  opulent   store   and   employing   some   90   people,   had   become   insufficient   to   cope   with   the   orders,   and   the   decision   was   made   to   relocate   production   to   Penne,   a   small   town   in   Abruzzo  with  a  long  and  distinguished  history  of  tailoring.  Here  Brioni  would  initiate   the  world’s  first  factory-­‐sized  sartorial  workshops.   This   wasn’t   a   straightforward   proposition.   Local   Abruzzo   tailors,   railings   against   what   they   saw   as   the   death   knell   of   the   centuries   –old   methods   of   hand-­‐tailoring,   were   skeptical.   But   Fontcoli,   like   Salvatore   Ferragamo   (another   maestro   artisan   who’d   skillfully   converted   the   art   of   bespoke   shoemaking   to   a   semi-­‐industrial   process)   personally   convinced   enough   local   craftsmen   of   the   integrity   of   Brioni’s   revolutionary   ‘serial   production’   concept,   which   meant,   in   most   simple   terms,   individual   tailors   working   on   components   of   the   suit   concurrently   with   others   doing  

the same.   The   same   level   of   handiwork   was   retained   for   each   suit,   be   it   ready-­‐to-­‐ wear  or  made-­‐to-­‐measure  –  Brioni’s  bespoke  suits  then,  as  now,  were  the  result  of  a   single  tailor’s  toil  –  but  the  suit  was  completed  in  a  much  shorter  period  of  time,  so   that   the   company   was   able   to   fill   vast   orders.   Ciro   Giuliano,   the   respected   Roman   tailor,   paid   Brioni   the   ultimate   compliment   when   he   visited   the   Penne   factory:   “You   have  set  up  what  I  always  dreamed  of  doing,”  he  stated.   As   Fonticoli   consolidated   the   company’s   tailors   at   the   Penne   factory,   Savini,   the   ultimate  showman,  continued  to  take  Brioni  on  the  road.  A  magician  at  marketing   and   public   relations,   Savini   had   toured   Brioni   throughout   America   and   in   the   mid   1950s,  putting  on  shows  in  Atlanta,  Boston,  Virginia,  Minnesota,  Chicago  and  New   York,  heavily  promoting  the  firm’s  innovative  ‘  Columnar  Look’;  one  that  The  New   York   Times   called   a   “postgraduate   version   of   the   ‘Ivy   Leaguer’”   look   with   its   narrow   and   tapered   silhouette.   Fielding’s   Travel   Guide   noted,   “If   you   want   to   look   classic,   Savini  and  Fonticoli  will  make  you  appear  as  opulent  and  powerful  as  the  president   of  Chase  Manhattan  Bank!”   Savini,   a   magnetic,   larger-­‐than-­‐life   character,   subsequently   became   the   darling   of   the   fashion   media   and   the   unofficial   spokesman   for   Italians   menswear.   The   American   press   corps   championed   him   as   the   “Caesar   of   Style”,   “King   of   Fashion   and  “Men’s  Dior”.  Savini’s  marketing  methods  were  nothing  short  of  cutting  edge,   even  by  today’s  standards.  To  note  one  example,  in  1964,  he  famously  presented  a   menswear   show   at   New   York’s   historic   Waldorf-­‐Astoria   hotel,   flooding   the   stage   with  ankle-­‐deep  water  as  models  reclined  at  a  mock  cocktail  party.   In  terms  of  sartorial  styling,  Brioni  was  remarkably  progressive.  In  London  in  1959,   they   showcased   butter-­‐coloured   buckskin   coats;   in   1961,   reversible   astrakhan   coats   and   checked   cloaks;   in   1970,   a   space-­‐age,   Futurist-­‐inspired   green   and   beige   outfit   that,   to   today   appeared   every   inch   the   lounge   suit   of   dreams   for   Star   Trek’s   Dr.   Spock.   “Traditionalism,”   Savini   told   GQ   in   1960   by   way   of   rationalizing   Brioni’s   radical  approach,  “is  alright  for  some  people  but  we  don’t  like  to  stand  still”      

The protagonist   of   Brioni’s   impending   renaissance   strides   through   the   imposing   lobby   of   Castello   Chiola,   the   2,100-­‐year-­‐old-­‐castle-­‐cum-­‐four-­‐star-­‐hotel   in   the   medieval   hillside   town   of   Loreta   Aprutino,   Abruzzo,   in   an   elegant   navy   wool   two-­‐ button   suit,   white,   high0collared   shirt   and   navy   silk   tie   (all   Brioni,   of   course),   and   politely  excuses  himself  for  arriving  to  our  interview.  All  is  forgiven.  Andrea  Perrone,   the   38-­‐year-­‐old   grandson   of   Brioni   co-­‐founder   Gaetano   Savini,   and   co-­‐CEO   of   the   Rome-­‐headquartered   luxury   brand,   is   a   man   of   subtle   integrity,   as   I’ll   discern   over   the   course   of   our   interview,   and   there’s   something   about   the   seriousness   of   his   expression   that   establishes   immediate   trust.   We   have   a   half-­‐hour   to   talk   before   dinner  with  Giulia,  Brioni’s  new  PR  director,  Angelo  Petrucci,  the  brand’s  35-­‐year-­‐old   global-­‐roaming  master  tailor,  and  Jason  Land,  our  photographer,  and  so  we  begin   our   conversation   in   the   past,   examining   the   wellspring   of   Brioni’s   everlasting   success:   the   relationship   between   Nazareno   Fonticoli   and   Perrone’s   grandfather,   Gaetano  Savini.   “I  think  it  was  a  great  relationship  between  Nazareno  and  Gaetano,”  Perrone  muses   as   he   sips   on   an   aperitif.   “One   was   a   master   tailor   and   the   other   was   a   great   businessman,   a   great   PR   man.”   Perrone   credits   their   success,   rather   modestly,   to   “the   right   people   at   the   right   time,   in   the   right   place.”   He   says,   “They   were   absolutely  complementary,  with  different  characters,  talents  and  skills.  But  besides   their   different   skills,   they   were   also   good   friends,   and   they   used   to   spend   a   lot   of   time   together,   which   was   a   necessary   condition   to   establish   Brioni   and   make   it   grow.   After   the   Second   World   War,   it   was   so   important   to   catch   the   American   people   coming   in   for   the   cinema,   for   the   movies.”   Perrone   laughs   and   shakes   his   head.   “Hollywood   and   la   dolce   vita,   no?   We   are   still,   even   today,   talking   about   la   dolce  vita!”  One  of  the  keys  to  Fonticoli  and  Savini’s  success,  Andrea  reasons,  was   their   pragmatic   understanding   of   the   changing   times.   “They   [Fonticoli   and   Savini]   immediately  understood  that  London  and  the  London  cut  were  too  formal,  so  they   introduced  a  touch  of  colour  in  the  collections  and  different  fittings.  And  it  was  very   important  at  that  time  to  have  famous  actors  like  John  Wayne,  Henry  Fonda,  Clark   Gable   and   so   on   [become   patrons].   They   were   almost   ambassadors.   My   gradfather…  he  brought  the  garments  in  luggage  to  the  United  Sates,  showing  the   collections   at   all   the   fairs   and   specialty   stores   in   1950s.   And   Italian   people   at   the   time  in  the  US  were  considered  really  second-­‐class  –  we  can  even  say  third-­‐class.  He   was  really  a  pioneer  and  I  was  so  lucky  to  meet  him.”     Gaetano  Savini  passed  away  in  1987  when  Perrone  was  16  years  old,  a  tough  blow   for  the  grandson,  given  that  he’s  spent  the  first  12  years  of  his  life  living  in  the  same   house   as   his   grandfather.   “I   have   so   many   memories,”   Perrone   fondly   recalls.   “He   was   a   really   amazing   person   from   the   kind   of   charisma   he   had.   Not   only   on   the   business  side…  A  couple  of  years  ago,  when  my  grandmother  died,  I  discovered  all   the  letters  written  by  my  grandfather  to  her  during  his  business  travels.  He  was  in   love   with   her   his   entire   life.   He   used   to   bring   her   flowers   without   any   specific   anniversary,  making  her  part  of  all  the  important  decisions  of  his  life.”   Naturally,   another   of   his   grandfather’s   qualities   that   Perrone   remembers   affectionately   was   his   outstanding   sense   of   style.”   He   always   liked   to   dress   different,  always  unique.  That’s  why,  sometimes,  not  today,”  Perrone  points  to  his  

exquisitely-­‐tailored navy   suit,   “this   is   some   kind   of   uniform.   But   even   when   wearing   a  tuxedo,  I  like  to  be  different.  I  think  it’s  important.  Of  course,  there  is  a  risk  when   you   are   different;   that   you   can   become   kitsch   or   whatever.   But   that’s   always   the   challenge   you   have.   Elegance   is   an   attitude,   and   the   first   rule   is   to   never   be   excessive.   And   I   don’t   want   to   replace   my   grandfather.   He   was   a   master.   It’s   amazing   how   he   really   managed   the   business,   how   close   he   was   to   the   staff,   to   the   managers,  the  organization…  the  clients.”     Perrone  may  not  want  to  replace  his  grandfather  –  and,  to  be  sure,  nobody  can  –  but   the  scion  of  Savini  clearly  has  the  ambition  to  reclaim  the  glory  days  for  Brioni.  In   July   2006,   the   then   36-­‐year-­‐p;d   Perrone   formed   a   triumvirate   with   Antonio   Bianchini   and   Antonella   De   Simone   (the   granddaughter   of   Nazareno   Fonticoli),   and   took   over   from   former   high-­‐profile   Brioni   CEO   Umberto   Angeloni,   who   had   helmed   the  luxury  brand  for  the  previous  16  years.  The  three  became  co-­‐CEOs,  each  with  a   different   role   and   responsibility   (Perrone’s   is   business   development;   Bianchini’s   finance   and   operations;   De   Simone’s   marketing   and   communication).   Angeloni,   it   was  reported,  left  in  acrimonious  circumstances.  “I  was  too  powerful,  too  glamorous   and  too  much  of  a  leader,”  he  bitterly  complained  at  the  time.   When   I   enquire   about   the   split,   and   whether   the   transition   to   power   has   been   difficult,   Perrone   coolly   plays   a   straight   bat:   “It’s   always   difficult   and   complex   to   manage   a   transition,   like   the   one   we   had   two   years   ago,”   he   says.   “We   were   prepared  to  face  that  period,  but  it  has  been  laborious  and  full  of  effort.  At  the  same   time,  it  has  been  a  great  and  enriching  experience.”   Although   he   is   young   for   the   role   as   majordomo   of   Brioni,   few   could   question   Perrone’s   credentials,   nor   his   experience.   As   with   most   family   businesses   that   are   passed  down  from  generation  to  generation,  Perrone  was  involved  in  the  business   almost   from   the   day   he   was   born.   Both   his   parents   had   major   roles.   His   mother,   Gigliola,   the   only   daughter   of   Gaetano   Savini,   has   designed   Brioni’s   women’s   collections   since   she   was   20   years   of   age   in   the   1960s;   and   Ettore,   Andrea   Perrone’s   father   and   a   Roman   Lawyer,   joined   the   business   when   he   married   Gigliola,   opening   the  first  American  Brioni  store  in  New  York,  in  1985.   Andrea   Perrone   himself   started   working   at   Brioni   as   a   boy   during   his   summer   holidays.   His   grandfather   made   sure   he   experienced   every   aspect   of   the   business,   and  aside  from  taking  him  to  all  the  fabric  factories,  Savini  encouraged  his  grandson   to   work   at   Brioni’s   Via   Barberini   store   in   Rome   and   the   firm’s   Penne-­‐based   tailoring   factory.  “I  have  and  packed  thousands  of  boxes  over  the  years,”  laughs  Perrone.  “I   had   to   be   at   the   factory   at   8   am   –   as   did   all   the   other   employees   –   and   the   exit   time   was  never  before  7pm.  I  didn’t  get  any  salary,  but  at  the  end  of  my  training,  I  was   tipped  by  my  grandfather.”  At  age  10,  Perrone  was  tagging  along  with  the  couriers   whose  role  it  was  to  personally  deliver  the  finished  suits  to  clients,  so  that  when  he   became  a  manager,  and  if  a  courier  said  it  took  him  x  amount  of  time  to  go  from  one   place   to   another,   but   Perrone   knew   it   only   took   y,   he   wouldn’t   have   the   (Super   150’s)   wool   pulled   over   his   eyes.   By   the   time   he   was   a   teenager,   Perrone   was   learning  how  to  make  hand-­‐tailored  suits.  Finishing  a  law  degree  in  Italy  at  age  24,  

he then  headed  to  the  US  to  work  in  Brioni’s  American  corporation  before  returning   to  work  full-­‐time  with  the  company  in  Italy.   Given   the   current   fiscal   climate,   2009   may   prove   to   be   an   interesting   period   for   Brioni,   but   Perrone   claims   it’s   “business   as   usual”;   the   company   will   open   flagship   stores  in  St.  Petersburg,  Lugano,  Zagabria,  Istanbul  and  Beirut  this  year  alone.  “Of   course,  today,  the  market  is  hard,”  Perrone  says,  “but  Brioni  is  deeply  committed  to   preserving   its   heritage   for   the   future   sartorial   clothing   and   the   art   of   classic   dressing,”  –  good  news  for  aficionados  of  masculine  style.    

It was  hardly  models  reposing  in  the  flooded  ballroom  of  the  Waldorf-­‐Astoria,  but,   as   time   will   tell,   maybe   the   unorthodox,   futuristic,   feather-­‐and-­‐satin-­‐bedecked   tuxedos  exhibited  in  the  gardens  of  a  Milanese  palazzo  in  June  last  year  could  very   well   have   been   the   official   first   chapter   in   the   renaissance   of   Brioni   under   Perrone   and   his   co-­‐CEOs.   On   display   were   the   works   of   the   13   finalists,   all   students   of   London’s  Royal  College  of  Art.  And  Brioni  is  one  facet  of  a  three-­‐year  agreement  for   the   latter   to   sponsor   RCA’s   Masters   in   Menswear   Fashion   Design   course,   which   involves   Brioni’s   master   tailors   teaching   the   students   the   art   of   hand-­‐tailoring   at   Brioni’s   tailoring   school   in   Penne.   Perhaps   tellingly,   the   creative   award   for   the   most   innovative   tuxedo   went   to   jasper   Sinchai   Chadprajong-­‐Smith,   a   design   student   who   is  half  English,  half  Thai-­‐Chinese  –  surely  a  human  microcosm  of  the  globalization  of   Brioni.   The   partnership   is,   Perrone   says,   “a   catalyst   for   progression”,   an   “academic   partnership”   that   “opens   Brioni   to   the   evolution   of   the   market,   to   the   new   generation”.  Clearly,  a  cutting-­‐edge  attitude  is  back  in  vogue  at  Brioni.  Watch  this   well-­‐tailored  space.    

In today's media-driven society, image is everything. Often judging a person by how they look, what they wear and the overall image they project. People seem to take pride in what they wear every day, whether it's at the office, the gym or simply when picking up a six-pack at the corner store. And although every successful man will admit that substance comes before style in the quest for success, he'll also acknowledge that sharp dressing habits make for a smoother and "classier" ride to the top. Man wants to dress to impress, the problem with that is that most of the human population cannot afford to don Brioni, Dolce & Gabbana or Canali every day. In fact, most probably won't get the chance to wear any of these upscale designer fashions in their lifetime.

Today, its made-to-measure garments come from the town of Penne, in Abruzzi, where all cutting, basting and buttonholes are still done by hand. Orders are from eight to ten weeks. In 2006 the family replaced Angeloni with three joint CEO's: Antonella de Simone, descended from Fonticoli, Andrea Perrone, a descendant of Savini, and finance man Antonio Bianchini.


Acrticle about Brioni.

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