Brioni is an Italian fashion house founded in 1945 that specializes in the sale of handmade suits. Robert Langdon, the main character from Dan Brown’s Inferno, wears a Brioni jacket throughout the course of his adventure.
Seeing Langdon in a Brioni suit, Marta Alvarez, the director of the Museum of Palazzo Vecchio in the novel, aptly comments on his attire as follows: “Very fashionable. You look almost Italian.”
The origins of the brand
The brand takes its name from the Brijuni (Brioni in Italian), a group of islands in the Adriatic Sea off Trieste that had been a favourite haunt of Italian and European belle-monde before the Second World War. The master tailor Nazareno Fonticoli, from Penne in Abruzzo, and his salesman business partner Gaetano Savini, from Rome, founded the company. They opened the first Brioni shop on the world-famous Via Barberini in Rome.
They recognised that there was a male population desperate to gloss over the privations of post-war life and that presenting the bella figura was of great importance to the Roman man, explicitly as a means to display his elegance.
From the beginning Brioni challenged the traditional strictures of English tailoring, which had set the standards for menswear (every man should wear black, blue, grey), offering a brighter palette, innovative fabrics, and a more relaxed design.
The growth of Brioni
Brioni’s first fashion show was held in 1952 at Pitti Palace in Florence. It was also the first man’s fashion show in fashion history at a time when male fashion models didn’t exist.
The show exposed the company to clients worldwide, and Brioni quickly became synonymous with “handmade” and “made in Italy.”
To meet the demand of such a large clientele, Savini and Fonticoli decided to move the production to Penne, a land of tailors in Abruzzo, at the end of the 1950s.
They found the right people to transform the small atelier in Rome into a big tailor shop ready to offer the best suits in the world, where expert tailors hand-sew jackets and trousers before adding the finishing touches by machine.
In 1985 the company opened a school of tailoring, a sort of lyceum of 4 years, because there were not enough skilled tailors available and to continue the art of tailoring as a cooperate culture and as a business.
Very early on, Brioni opened new shops on both sides of the Atlantic and in locations such as Mumbai, St. Petersburg, and Baku.
In 2011, perhaps for economics reasons, the Italian luxury menswear brand Brioni was acquired by the French Kering ( known as the PPR group) even if in Italy it still remains a great part of the production.
The process of creating the clothes
“Handmade” is the real aim of the Brioni production. Brioni is able to make on average only 5/6 tuxedos per day. It can take between 18 and 22 hours to make a single Brioni suit; 45 minutes for one button, from 5 to 7 thousand points by hand, and up to 220 processing steps of which 80 are of ironing alone.
The Brioni tailors are able to create 200 models in different styles and sizes every year.
The first material (more than 5,000 different fabrics to choose from) must be impecable, not only in terms of pattern and quality but also of performance, so Brioni continues to test every single piece of fabric that they receive from the best suppliers in the world.
Only after this process do the tailors start to cut every single suit.
Brioni suits were luxuries only affordable to the privileged few, namely, Europe’s wealthy and aristocrats. It has been the official suit of the fictional secret agent James Bond, having been worn by actors Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig. Celebrities such as Clark Gable and Cary Grant began to buy their suits from Brioni in the 1950s when working at Rome’s Cinecittà studios. Also Nelson Mandela, actors like Leonardo Di Caprio and Geoffry Rush, and the U.S. President Barack Obama have all worn Brioni suits.
Nazareno Fonticoli Foundation and the Brioni Archives
In 1998 the “Foundation Nazareno Fonticoli” was formed to spread, with social and cultural initiatives, the training of young people and to facilitate their integration into the trade. The Foundation also aimed to foster a love for Fonticoli’s hometown of Penne in its need to rediscover the past and to enhance and protect its architecture and environment.
Among the many activities that the Foundation supports are fall conferences, exhibitions, publications, awards, and scholarships.
The Brioni fashion house preserves an extraordinary documented heritage, a testimony of the high-fashionable men’s tailoring that has helped to establish in the world the true tradition of Italian tailoring.
The archives, recognized by the Ministry of National Heritage and Cultural Heritage of particular historical interest, includes over 700 dresses made in the 50s, hundreds of copyrighted sketches, drawings and tables, 10,000 photographic materials, and dozens of patent licences.
Watch the video presentation of the fashion house Brioni!
Picture by www.brioni.com