Brioni's beautifully baroque 75th anniversary
Which turned out to be a beautifully plaintive method to celebrate the 75th anniversary of an otherwise troubled brand, and show its fall/winter 2020 colleciton.
Two Danish cellists dueled inside a marvelous Sala Gialla dinning room, from a rococo theme by Tchaikovsky to a superb sonata by Joseph Bodin de Boismortier. On the left, Andreas Brantelid in a short formal Virgilio jacket with shawl collar made in Barathea wool and canneté silk wool pants. On the right, Ingemar Brantelid played with fatherly gusto, attired in a superb double-breasted caramel-hued silk evening jacket. Each looking impeccable, and enormously proud.
Guests wandered through a series of large rooms inside the immense 16th-century Palazzo Gerini under soaring Renaissance frescos. The palace still belongs to the Gerini family, whose ancestor Marquis Carlo Gerini, secretary to Cardinal Carlo de Medici, first acquired it back in 1650.
Opening with a wind quartet playing works by Lorenzo de Firenze, from a perfectly cut steely grey wool chevron double-breasted coat to a magnificent deerskin blazer paired with a cashmere turtle neck.
For evening, Greek Alexandros Kapelis played silky compositions by Debussy on a massive Steinway piano, the pianist dressed in classy white tie and tails. And, riffing on Brioni‘s great tradition of using opulent silk, a string trio of violinists looked devilishly sharp in peak lapel or Virgilio jackets in bold jacquards made in silk from centuries-old Venetian looms.
Though the center point was the Sala Bianca, albeit not the same White Room where the entire Italian fashion system began back in 1951 with the first runway show for press and buyers staged by Giovanni Battista Giorgini in the Palazzo Pitti. With a baroque ensemble paying Handel or Henry Purcell in single- and double-breasted Virgilio suits, cut with wider shoulders and made in soft chalk stripes or romantic dark silks.
Dinner for 120 after, cooked by the Italian chef of the moment, eight Michelin starred Enrico Bartolini, from seafood ravioli to mini Fiorentina steaks, added to the rarefied air. It all made for an elegiac moment to open Pitti, the world‘s most important fashion salon, which runs until Friday in Florence.
In the past half decade, Brioni has had four different creative directors and four different CEOs. So, the contrast between this charming moment and the convoluted recent history of the brand could not have been greater.
Perhaps, finally, under new CEO Mehdi Benabadji and designer Norbert Stumpfl, Brioni may finally enjoy a renaissance. This seems like a good start.
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