As he looks to the future, Brioni’s Design Director is returning to the company’s roots. “Brioni is about Italian flair – Roman flair – and craftsmanship; about Luxury and masculine effortless elegance: nonchalant and understated, for people in the know,” says Austrian-born Norbert Stumpfl who was appointed Brioni’s Design Director in September 2018. Since then, he has fully immersed himself in the company’s world of bespoke tailoring and luxurious fabrics. And sustainability. “We are using more sustainable fabrics from Italian suppliers,” says Stumpfl.
Norbert Stumpfl, Brioni Executive Design Director
“Brioni is a world apart,” he explains. “It’s about the lightness of the materials, the tailoring close to the body yet still allowing fluidity of movement.” No outward logos. The clothes themselves do the talking. Brioni is subtle but powerful. “You have to get close to the clothes to appreciate details that you may not discover right away,” adds Stumpfl. “For example, you might realize a few months after you bought it, that the reason the pocket of your jacket feels so soft inside is because it’s lined in leather.”
A tailor by training who spent the previous 13 years of his career in the luxury fashion world of Paris, Stumpfl is passionate about the look, feel, and drape of Brioni clothing. “Brioni is not for the man who wants to change his style every six months,” he says adamantly. “We’re not about fashion; Brioni is about style.”
That style was born 75 years ago and came to international prominence in the days of La Dolce Vita and Cinecitta – the Italian movie studios near Rome that produced films of the genre. It was the naissance of Brioni’s tradition of Tailoring Legends, a campaign that exists still today, and has included the likes of Anthony Hopkins, Pierce Brosnan and Samuel L Jackson. And of course, over the years, Brioni has been embodied by James Bond. But James Bond is a fantasy, an iconic Alpha Male, not a real person. Stumpfl’s vision of today’s Brioni man has more depth.
“He is a self-aware man, he has a powerful job and that means he probably travels a lot,” Stumpfl says. He will always want that Brioni suit, but that’s only a part of his life. Stumpfl’s 360-degree view takes in the whole man. “He’s a father, a husband, who has a life on the weekend. He wants lightness and sophistication in his clothes – to put them on and not feel restricted,” Stumpfl explains. “My job is to make the life of the Brioni man as comfortable as possible. Like the most sophisticated wristwatch – it’s paper thin, functional and elegant.”
Brad Pitt, new ambassador of the Tailoring Legends campaign. Photographer: Mikael Jansson © Brioni
In fact, today’s Brioni man is indeed a real person… Brad Pitt, to be exact, the brand’s new ambassador. “To have Brad Pitt in this role is an honor,” says Stumpfl. “He’s an ideal man: men want to look like him and women love him,” Stumpfl points out. “He’s not a kid anymore; he’s an attractive, sophisticated man and he’s interested in many things – art and architecture, for example — and he loves the craftsmanship in Brioni.”
Brioni’s first show in 1952
But perhaps most significant is Brioni’s return to the Pitti Uomo men’s fashion event in Florence earlier this month. Not, as Stumpfl admonishes, “An eight-minute show where you don’t see anything,” Brioni’s was an hour-long musical production in a palazzo featuring members of the world’s most renowned orchestras dressed in various Brioni ensembles, perfectly tailored to each man, ranging in size from 46 to 54.
In addition to the use of social media channels, advertising, and billboards, Brioni’s new season will be rolled out this year in a fresh manner of doing business the old way. In 2019 there was the re-opening of the London flagship store in an 18th century Georgian townhouse in Bruton Street designed by London-based architecture studio P. Joseph. And the trunk shows – a sales technique created by Brioni seven decades ago – taking place in key world cities throughout the year under the watchful eye of Master Tailor Angelo Petrucci.
“This show with its diversity of musician-models, real people, top professionals, shows that each of our customers is unique,” Stumpfl says. “I want to bring Brioni to the level it deserves. And the Pitti Uomo show reminds us that good things take time.”