Happy Birthday, Brunello Cucinelli

Courtesy Brunello Cucinelli

Brunello Cucinelli celebrates his 65th—and gives his hometown of Solomeo, Italy a gift

To celebrate the brand’s 40th year (and the man’s 65th birthday), Brunello Cucinelli brought the party to his beloved Solomeo last week, the hamlet in Umbria where he has manufactured his now worldwide empire of sportswear since the early days of his brand when just 14 perfect cashmere sweaters were all he did.
 

Courtesy Brunello Cucinelli

“Hamlet” is Cucinelli’s word of choice to describe Solomeo, and indeed, though the company now employs more than 1,000 people (mostly locals), the hilltop village retains the look and feel of a bygone era. This is small-town Italy perfected, in no small part thanks to Cucinelli, who has over the years restored, protected, and beautified many parts of town. In his view, betterment of communities, even whole societies, can happen just as effectively in a tiny town like this as it can in an urban center. Think local, act local...the rest will follow.

 
Some 500 friends and members of the media from all over the world assembled for the event in Solomeo’s perfect little square presided over by a charmingly noisy bell tower. The assembled guests could be forgiven if their attention wandered away from the speechifying toward the stunningly picturesque valley below as it became washed in coral by the setting sun. Anyway, this is what we’d come to see: the unveiling of The Project for Beauty, a four-year process of reclamation in which Cucinelli bought five disused 70s-era warehouses, tore them down, and in their place planted vineyards and sunflowers and constructed a hillside shrine to human dignity.
 

Courtesy Brunello Cucinelli

 

Since 1978, Cucinelli has been restoring the land to reflect the values that inspire and guide him: beauty, humanity, and truth. “Five monuments that embody these values have been positioned in harmony from the hill to the valley,” he says of the landscape, “Each of which we feel are both beautiful and true: the Spiritual Forest, the Church, the Theater, the Wine Cellar and the Monument.” Now, he’s unveiled a new travertine monument, hoping to add another 2,000 years of value to his sacred place.
 

Courtesy Brunello Cucinelli

“In Solomeo we have restored that vital relationship between the center and the outskirts that no longer exists in so many places,” he says of the latest addition, “We focused on carefully restoring every little detail and this was done continually with affection in memory of our fathers. We have restored more than built and our only addition was a monument to secular culture, the Theater.”


Courtesy Brunello Cucinelli

The semi-circular piazzetta flanked by marble monoliths is the concrete manifestation of Cucinelli’s world-view and business philosophy. According to him, every pillar of civil society—politics, economics, ecology—starts with an imperative to treat each human with respect. The man practices what he preaches. For every employee, hours are strictly 9 to 5:30, with a mandatory 90 ministers for paccheri and burrata in the company canteen during which email shuts off (as it does every evening and weekend). Quality of life equals quality of product. That—in this age of fast fashion, fast communication, fast everything—is the not-so-simple formula for Cucinelli’s success. And you can see and feel it in every product.


Courtesy Mr Porter

And feel it you can in the knitwear. Cucinelli uses the cashmere produced in Solomeo, like in this blended crewneck, in his designs. And starting today, he’s collaborating with Mr. Porter on a special, 60-piece project of day-to-evening transitional wardrobe pieces for the modern man—perfect for Cucinelli’s hometown or yours.