An insider's guide to your favourite fashion brands
Who started it?
Brioni, named after an elegant resort on the coast of the Adriatic Sea, was founded in 1945 by tailor Nazareno Fonticoli and designer Gaetano Savini. At the end of the second world war, the partners opened one of the first men's fashion ateliers in Rome with the goal of reintroducing elegance and luxury to post-war Italy.
In the beginning, the brand catered mostly to European aristocrats, but by the 50s it began to attract a celebrity following, including Cary Grant, Rock Hudson and John Wayne. In 1952, Brioni held its first fashion show, at the Palazzo Pitt in Florence, and soon established itself as one of the first international men's labels.
By 1954, Brioni staged fashion shows in nine US cities, including New York, winning the Esquire award for menswear in 1959 and the International Fashion Council award three years later.
In 1959, Brioni opened a factory in the Italian province of Abruzzo, where it remains today. Brioni tailors are trained at an in-house school for four years before being allowed to handle fabric for clients.
Over the years, Brioni opened a shirt factory and a leather fashion house. In 1994, the company launched a ready-to-wear line, Brioni Roman Style, and a women's line in 2001. In the wake of the latest James Bond film, Brioni released a limited-edition tuxedo for spring/summer that's the same as the one worn by Daniel Craig in Casino Royale.
The making of each bespoke Brioni suit involves 10 hours of hand-sewing, 18 hours of craftsmanship, 42 pressing stages and 186 manufacturing phases. Customers can choose from more than 5,000 different fabrics (from raw silk to a dense fabric called Vaticano). Brioni is known for its experimental use of materials.
From the start, the makers borrowed fabrics from womenswear to soften the traditional stiffness of men's tailoring. The classic Brioni suit has pitched shoulders, a tapered waist and slim hipline. Buttonholes, lapels and pockets are precisely positioned and suits can be customised. This season, 900 tailors from the Brioni factory created 200 ready-to-wear styles for men.
For spring/summer 2007 womenswear, designer Cristina Ortiz took an androgynous turn, sending models down the runway in oversized shirts, coats, trousers and three-piece suits tailored in crisp cotton. The OrganiCouture collection featured muted colours such as grey, black and white and unusual details such as asymmetrically strapped belts, deconstructed sleeves and exposed stitching.
New York mafia boss John Gotti, known as the Dapper Don, had an extensive collection of custom-made Brioni suits.
Defining fashion moment
Starting with Pierce Brosnan in 1995, Brioni replaced Savile Row tailors as the suit-maker of choice for James Bond.
Who wears it?
Donald Trump, Kofi Annan, Al Pacino, Richard Gere and Prince Albert of Monaco.
Where can I buy it?
Brioni is available at Lane Crawford, IFC Mall, Central, tel: 2118 3388.