Earlier this summer, the classic Italian menswear collection Brioni got a jolt of something new: Brendan Mullane, the former head of menswear design at Givenchy, was named creative director of the 68-year-old brand. The designer, who previously worked for the likes of Burberry and Alexander McQueen, had a challenge ahead of him: classic menswear like Brioni never goes out of style, but how to take a company with such an established heritage and update it for today?
The Window checked in with Mullane to find out, and also to pick his menswear-obsessed brain on Made to Measure, his personal style rules, and the guys that are getting it right—right now.
How would you describe the DNA of Brioni?
Brioni’s DNA is made up of a mixture of three chromosomes, its first and most prominent being its Italian sartorial excellence, which is steeped in unapproachable artisanal craftsmanship. The second is the desire for innovation in almost its purest form, working alongside the third: its audacity in its choices to be different and to take the risk to think outside the box.
What kind of man wears Brioni?
A Brioni man is a self confident, elegant man who is not afraid to be different and express his personality in his art of dressing. He is demanding, international, and has a strong understanding of the ultimate level of luxury and craftsmanship. [He is] totally uncompromising in his definition and desire of masculine elegance.
How do you keep a house with such an impressive heritage modern?
The way to keep this strong heritage house of Brioni modern is to firstly understand and embrace its DNA, and use this to create a Brioni language that can start to allow it to awaken, speak and reposition itself as a brand in a contemporary world. Add to this a touch of spice to make it desirable, thus allowing itself to speak to a wider audience. Alongside this there is the need to install the self confidence back into the brand itself in its core values, as it was Brioni’s individuality and innovation that from its beginning in the 1950’s made it a leader and not a follower.
What’s the most important thing to consider when buying a suit?
When buying a suit, you really need to look and understand your own body shape and proportions. By understanding your body, a suit can really completely change your vision of yourself, giving a new confidence to the wearer. A really good suit should fit you like a glove and really be able to mold itself to your body and get even better with time, almost like an organic aerodynamic piece of body protection.
What makes Brioni made to measure so special?
The Brioni ‘Sur Misura’ can for me probably be described as the nearest thing to male haute couture. It really is the bespoke made to measure. Right down to the fundamental choice of the canvas, each is made according to specific clients’ demands, fit and the chosen suit fabric. Not only is the outer visible suit constructed completely from scratch on the basis of the clients’ measurements and form, but so is the canvas on which it takes shape and comes to life. Just like couture, hours of manual hand operations—many not even visible to the outside eye—go into the evolution of the suit. The result is a creation of an exterior second skin that works with the body and conceals all your natural human defects.
What are some of your personal men’s style rules?
- Always have polished shoes
- Grey is a very sophisticated color that can really work with everything
- A look doesn’t have to finish with just shoes and a tie
- The art of dressing, even in the purest form, allows your personality to shine
- Always have at least one double breasted suit and a beautiful coat in your wardrobe
Who are some modern men who are getting it right, style wise?
The gallerist Alexander Gilkes, Vladimir Doronin, Pharrell Williams and even though he’s not still around, Richard Burton will always be a reference, without question.
Anyone you’d love to get into a Brioni suit?
Two men of very different worlds and spectrums. Nelson Mandela, a man of this strength in character and belief, would be amazing inside the newly awakened style of Brioni. And also a personal favorite: Michael Fassbender.