There is no Mr. Brioni, and there never has been. In 1945 two partners, Gaetane Savini and Nazareno Fonticoli, opened a tailor shop in Rome and named it after a resort island in the Adriatic Sea, where the wealthy frolicked. The two craftsmen became known for creating handmade suits of exceptional quality at a time when nothing similar was available anywhere but on London's Savile Row.
In the early 1950s, Brioni Roman Style, the full name of the salon, began to make a name for itself by initiating a new Italian phenomenon: runway presentations of Italian menswear for the press and important American retailers. In 1955 Life magazine hailed the firm for its first-ever men's fashion show, held in Florence, calling attention to "such startling innovations as matching ensembles and brass-button overcoats" (Spindler, p. 22). The company's use of novelty fabrics, such as silk shantung, in colors not previously found in men's apparel, appealed particularly to American buyers.
Soon Brioni caught the attention of well-dressed men around the world, including Hollywood movie stars, who had seen Frederico Fellini's 1959 movie masterpiece La Dolce Vita and wanted a part of the lifestyle it portrayed. Rock Hudson, Anthony Quinn, Clark Gable, Richard Burton, and Sidney Poitier all found their way to Brioni for the impeccably tailored, quintessentially Italian suit, sleek and elegant with tapered shoulders and a fitted waist. That same year, Savini and Fonticoli branched out beyond their tailoring operations into a ready-to-wear business and began selling to stores outside of Italy.
A Brioni suit is the product of 186 different stages of production and inspections with 42 intermediate and final pressing stages. While approximately five hours are required to make a standard suit, it takes eighteen hours to make a Brioni suit. According to the company, 50 percent of the time is spent on hand sewing the garment, and 80 percent of the process is done by hand. The company's dedication to quality and elegance begins with the best wools, cashmeres, and linens and continues with expert cutting by master tailors, who cut each suit individually. Details include buttonholes, hand stitched with silk thread, extra pockets, and special features that keep one's shirt from creasing. With such attention to every facet of production, it is no wonder that Brioni once had difficulty finding qualified tailors. Thus, the company set up its own private school in 1978, offering five-year programs to qualified students. This school, located in the town of Penne, home of the Brioni factory, not only guarantees employment upon completion, but also encourages and preserves the heritage of the region.
Over its years of international fame, Brioni has had a part in many memorable moments. Nelson Mandela wore a light gray worsted Brioni suit to celebrate the first anniversary of his election. Actor Pierce Brosnan, who portrayed the world's most famous secret agent in a series of 007 films during the 1990s, wears only Brioni when he appears as James Bond. The company has published several successful books on Brioni style. And, with its expansion into knitwear, outerwear, leather goods, and loungewear, Brioni opened freestanding sportswear stores in Aspen, Colorado, and Beverly Hills, California, in the year 2000, the first of its kind, although the company already operates several full-line stores in New York City and Italy.
Today, the Brioni Group owns several luxury goods companies, including Burini, maker of fine shirts; Sabri, Brioni's only licensee, specializing in handmade neckwear; and Sforza, maker of high-quality leather garments. The Brioni label in a garment affirms it was made by the preeminent producer of tailored menswear. Website: http://www.brioni.it
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