Exorbitant suits - dressed in the finest fashion
It was a throwaway joke, an off-the-cuff remark, that happened to be true.
Looking at Brioni's breathtakingly priced bespoke tailored suit, which can cost up to HK$780,000, a guest mumbled at its Hong Kong unveiling: 'What's in it? Spun gold?'
Indeed, spun gold it is. And also silver. And wool. But ah, what wool.
The fabric for Brioni's exclusive Vanquish II suit, made by Dormeuil, consists of the softest, finest fibres in the world, brought back from three of the globe's farthest corners: vicuna, from a llama-like animal living in the high Alpine areas of the Andes; pashmina, from the pashmina goat, bred by nomadic herdsmen 'on the rooftop of the world', the Chantang plateau in the Ladakh region of northern India; and qiviuk, or qiviut, the underwool of the muskox, which looks like a hairy bison and lives way up in the North American Arctic.
The composition of the material makes it the dearest of its kind in the world: 30 per cent vicuna wool, 10 per cent qiviuk (considerably stronger and eight times warmer by weight than most sheep's wool), and the rest pashmina. The pinstripes in the fabric are made from white gold or silver thread. Since the line was launched three years ago, not many more than a hundred Vanquish II suits have ever been made.
Brioni, which is based in Italy's Abruzzo region, and was founded in 1945, is the tailor of choice for many of the world's most famous men: Presidents Obama of the United States and Putin of Russia; James Bonds Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig; older Hollywood heroes Clark Gable and Cary Grant; Eric Clapton and Nelson Mandela; Donald Trump and Justin Timberlake.
At the cocktail hosted by the fashion house The Swank, at Club Lusitano, in Central however, the cynosure of all eyes was not the celebrities or the vacant-eyed models who stood around in the background, but Brioni's youngest chief master tailor, Angelo Di Febo, 28.
Di Febo deals with the very rich and the very famous on a regular basis: 'Mostly bankers of course, and film stars in Hollywood,' he says.
'We come with the finest fabric and measure our clients, and then I fly off to Italy and create the suit. We have staff here in Hong Kong who do the follow-up fittings; there are usually three at least, and minor changes are made but, with the expertise of our crew, the suits are perfect.'
The Vanquish II line is only available in Brioni's own boutiques, and currently only 30 suits are planned worldwide. 'We have some interest shown in Hong Kong already,' Di Febo says. 'But most of the suits have been made for European clients, particularly those in Russia.'