Photograph Courtesy of Brunello Cucinelli
Brunello Cucinelli launched his couture house in 1979 with the intention of bringing cashmere—a fabric once reserved for menswear—to women. Ever since, he has traveled to the mountains of Mongolia to purchase cashmere directly from the source. When he took his namesake label to the American market for the first time, it was Bergdorf Goodman that opened our doors as one of his first accounts. As this week marks 20 years of Brunello Cucinelli at BG, we sat down with Cucinelli himself to talk about the brand’s beginnings, his first fashion memory, and more. Read the Q&A below and stop by to celebrate this Thursday from 5:30-7:30PM on 6.
Bergdorf Goodman: What was your source of inspiration for the start of your brand?
Brunello Cucinelli: In my life, I have always cherished a dream: to give dignity to human labour. Several factors then drove my choices. First was my family: the role model of my mother and father, who never quarreled when I was growing up; the example of my grandfather and his love for the land. We were farmers and I have always heard my family pray to God for a fair amount of rain, sunshine, and wind. Upon every harvest, the first sack of wheat was always given to the community.
Second: the love for beauty and Emperor Hadrian’s statement: “I feel responsible for the beauty in the world”. This has played a huge role in our restoration of the Solomeo hamlet first, and of the surrounding valley later.
Third: the search for quality rooted in the Umbrian heritage of knitwear manufacturing. Together with my wife Federica, we have striven to produce garments that could last forever, and we have chosen cashmere, an extremely valuable material, as we wanted to manufacture something special to be handed down to future generations. This project took off thanks to the help of our friends and co-workers, our distinguished artisans that are able to produce top-notch quality items that hopefully are also very creative and contemporary.
BG: What is your first memory in fashion?
BC: When I was 24, a local sportswear brand—then to become a very important name internationally, too—asked me to model for them. I remember being very mindful of my outfits and also reading fashion magazines to keep abreast with the latest trends. Federica has always been a great encouragement for me as she ran a small clothing store with her family. I was fascinated by that world and that’s how I came across the idea of dying cashmere and to design cashmere sweaters specifically for women, as cashmere had always belonged to a man’s wardrobe.
BG: How would you describe Brunello Cucinelli (the brand) in 3 words?
BC: It is very difficult to describe our company in just 3 words, but the following really matters to us: human dignity in labour, the search for beauty through craftsmanship, and Solomeo, the center and hub of our manufacturing and our lives.
BG: How does it feel to be celebrating the 20th anniversary of Brunello Cucinelli at Bergdorf Goodman?
BC: Bergdorf Goodman plays a very special role in Brunello Cucinelli’s history. When we entered the American market for the first time, 20 years ago, it was Bergdorf Goodman that opened their doors for us. As in all successful partnerships, I am personally convinced that honesty, transparency, mutual respect and trust have been key factors.
All this has been indeed possible thanks to constant dialogue and a direct human relation between our teams that has been built over the years.
We are honoured to celebrate this anniversary with our special friends.
BG: Is there something that most people still don’t know about you or the brand?
I think that our brand holds no secret anymore; nowadays technologies allow us to see everything. The Internet, a very powerful tool, always places us centrestage for our customers and the market itself. We strive to be true and authentic and to perhaps convey some messages through our way of doing business.
As far as I am concerned, I have to say that I am very happy to be a grandfather; having the chance to teach something to my grandchildren Vittoria and Penelope is a source of great joy for me and a huge blessing.
BG: What is the first thing that springs to your mind when you think of Bergdorf Goodman?
BC: I am reminded of New York City’s elegance, its cosmopolitan nature, its willingness to welcome people coming from all over the world.
Bergdorf Goodman embodies this culture as it represents the iconic luxury shopping destination; it is a synonym for beauty, style and creativity.