On one of his solitary rambles around Paris, Berluti's creative director, Alessandro Sartori, visited the Museum of Natural History, where the exhibits of endangered or extinct species got him thinking about the genealogy of his own profession: how tailoring had evolved, what was lost, what had survived. Last night, the same museum played host to an evening that put Berluti's genealogy on display, in the form of a "family tree" of footwear, from the first derby and hiking boot in 1895 to 2013's version of those same shoes. Full circle.
But it wasn't just coming back to the beginning. Under Sartori and CEO Antoine Arnault, Berluti has embarked on an ambitious plan to reposition itself as the apogee of men's style. The great hall of the Museum of Natural History has a veritable ark of animals streaming through it. Around it last night was ranked a set of tableaux depicting some luxurious new life-forms. Or at least a new take on classics. The three-piece suit, for instance: high closing on the gilet, low closing on the jacket, with a sharp angle created by the lapel and the slant of the pocket that echoed the signature angularity of Sartori's designs during his days with Zegna. Or sporty outerwear transfigured: Japanese cotton lined with mink, sharply tailored construction. Or a new Neapolitan shoulder for jackets, with a slight pad to add definition so that the line of the jawbone and the shoulder created another of those angles that Sartori loves. And the complex treatments Berluti has always applied to its shoe leather are now being used on the clothes. Like the six layers of wax on a double-breasted trench in cashmere-lined kangaroo. The result? An intense, diffused patina of color that will evolve with time.
The rest of the collection had the familiar ring of artisanal luxury—the six-ply cashmeres, the real-down-filled quilted leather blousons, the sumptuous eveningwear—but the grand timelessness of the setting was probably the truest indication of Sartori and Arnault's game plan.