Each November, Brunello Cucinelli and his wife, Federica, open the doors of their lovingly and immaculately restored villa in the medieval town of Solomeo, outside Perugia in central Italy, for a true American event — Thanksgiving.
“We organize a dinner for at least 30, 40 people, and whoever has a property nearby is invited,” Cucinelli says over Zoom in late September while seated inside company headquarters, a 14th-century castle in the same area. The holiday menu features a turkey prepared by Federica, with an extra one that’s roasted “four or five days in advance of the big day” as a test run. “Ryan Seacrest comes with his own olive oil, his own wine,” continues Cucinelli. “I really like this relationship that we have forged with people from L.A. and even Silicon Valley. It’s been a very spontaneous kind of relationship.”
Through a translator, Cucinelli — who recently hosted a star-studded party in the hamlet to celebrate his 70th birthday and the brand’s 45th anniversary, with guests including Martha Stewart, Jonathan Bailey, Ashley Park and longtime ambassador Patrick Dempsey — leans on other words like “authentic” and “organic” to describe the bonds that keep people flocking to both Solomeo and the brand, whose success in Hollywood continues to grow.
For the Mother premiere in May, Jennifer Lopez slipped on a subtly sequined taupe ensemble; the look was the first fully custom piece the house has created for a star client. Last month, Adele donned an all-black custom look for her Caesars Palace residency. Other standout moments include Dempsey’s looks at the Venice Film Festival for the premiere of Ferrari; Taika Waititi’s suit for his wedding to Rita Ora; and the slate gray double-breasted suit Gwyneth Paltrow wore at her Park City ski accident trial. To further solidify Hollywood connections, Cucinelli flew in from Italy for a brand dinner at Chateau Marmont on Oct. 19, attended by Oprah Winfrey, Paltrow, Quinta Brunson, Colman Domingo, Chris Pine, Ava DuVernay, Jon Hamm, Jeremy Allen White, and Lopez and Ben Affleck.
“The most important red carpet in the world is Hollywood, obviously,” says Cucinelli. “Even when I was a kid, that was the first and foremost that would always come to my mind. Hollywood is Hollywood and it is renowned not just for cinema, but also for beauty [and] style.”
Unsurprisingly, the master designer is reserved when asked to comment on the bold-faced names he dresses. “It’s not good to drop names,” he says, respectfully. That’s not to say they don’t celebrate within company ranks. “Downstairs from where I am sitting,” he says, “there are a couple of rooms where there are different pictures of Hollywood stars who decided to wear one item or another. It definitely fills my heart with joy.”
He’s equally pleased with how the label has been featured on television, moments that have coincided with the fashion movement known as quiet luxury. To nail the stealth-wealth look, costume designers on shows like Succession and Billions have turned to Brunello Cucinelli to outfit characters like Jeremy Strong’s Kendall Roy as a way to telegraph sophistication and success. TV is of course only imitating life: Both Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg also have been spotted in Brunello Cucinelli. “There is no doubt that it has greatly boosted and helped the business because, of course, when a successful TV show displays your products, your products are automatically successful, too,” avers the designer.
Despite having grown up watching such soapy favorites as Dynasty, Cucinelli says he doesn’t watch much TV these days as he prefers to read, write or take a stroll around his estate. “Last night, it was a bit chilly, so I lit up my fireplace and I spent two and a half hours just sitting in my armchair staring at the flames,” he explains. “My wife came to me from the kitchen and said, ‘What are you doing here? Nothing?’ I was just meditating looking at the fire burning and spending time with myself.”
The brand — which garnered around $570 million in revenue in the first half of 2023, up 31 percent from the same period in 2022 — spans categories like men, women, kids, eyewear (with Oliver Peoples), fragrance, home goods and wine. Cucinelli says 35 percent of his company’s business comes from the American market, profits that he has, in turn, used to refurbish Solomeo. “Therefore, when I look at the village around me at the hamlet, actually 35 percent of it was restored with U.S. money, with 15 percent of that coming from the West Coast, so whenever I have guests coming from the West Coast or that corner of the world, I say, ‘Your money was well spent because thanks to your investment, we built a theater, a winery and other things that dot the beautiful landscape here.’ ”
It’s that same spirit — if you build it, they will come — that permeates the Brunello Cucinelli philosophy. Driven by a model inspired by “humanistic capitalism,” the company makes a point of not pushing staffers to overwork on nights and weekends. The entire operation shuts down each day for an hour and a half each day for a proper lunch. “My purpose was to build a company that would never hurt or damage creation where there was fair profit, a profit that was made with ethics, dignity and morals,” Cucinelli explains. “I also wanted my people to work surrounded by a better environment, more beautiful, pleasant places and I wanted them to earn slightly more. This has always been my idea to restore the moral and economic dignity of work and the idea of working.”
In the thick of the pandemic in 2020, the brand introduced Brunello Cucinelli for Humanity, an initiative to donate around $30 million of surplus stock via an initiative called Brunello Cucinelli for Humanity. “The values that are so important to the company are the same ones that attract [celebrities],” he says. “Of course, they have to appreciate the aesthetic of the brand and they have to like to wear the clothes, but the clothes have more meaning when they know that there’s something behind it that is more meaningful,” says Cucinelli, who employs many family members in the business including two daughters, Carolina and Camilla. The former keeps close to the Hollywood community thanks to owning a house in L.A.
Stylist Warren Alfie Baker has worked with the house for years — dressing clients like Dempsey and Glen Powell in Brunello — and says “time after time,” they are looks that stay relevant through the years. “One of the things I think of when it comes to the Brunello Cucinelli brand is timeless elegance. It oozes glamour and chicness,” Baker says. “The cuts and the fabric choices are top notch and it has old Hollywood elegance with a modern man in mind.”
Cucinelli says he’s aware of the ink “quiet luxury” has gotten in recent months, but he’s more pragmatic about trends and their staying power. “In the history of fashion, there has always been an alternation of six or seven years of a louder, flashier type of fashion that is followed immediately by six or seven years of understated trends. This is where we are now.”
Which leads us back to this moment, of preparing to host his special dinner in L.A. before the team heads back to Italy for an Italian Thanksgiving. “I want to really say my thank you to the Americans because I’m here today thanks to you for buying so many of our items,” he says. “Whenever I went to the U.S., my father would ask me, ‘Have you brought back any dollars from the U.S.?’ I would show him the notes and the coins. He was under the spell of the dollars and the Americans.”
Below, shop Brunello Cucinelli’s best fall must-haves for women and men from Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, Net-A-Porter and other luxury retailers.
- Metallic shearling-lined moto vest from the new Neiman Marcus exclusive Hollywood Glamour capsule collection; $10,995, bergdorfgoodman.com and neimanmarcus.com
- Nappa leather utility trousers; $6,795, net-a-porter.com
- Shearling and leather bag; $3,603, Farfetch
- Corduroy blazer; $4,795
- Sequin cable-knit sweater; $4,995
- Leather monili-strap riding boot; $2,495, neimanmarcus.com
- Leather and shearling heel; $1,750, Brunello Cucinelli, Beverly Hills
A version of this story first appeared in the Oct. 25 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.
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