When Brioni announced late last year that its new creative director, Brendan Mullane, had been plucked from the design studio of Givenchy, eyebrows were raised. In this day and age, "old" and "new" don't have more distant avatars than those two labels. But Mullane has turned out to be a technical, sartorial wonk of surprising depth. And while Brioni's customers need fear no Rottweilers, Mullane proclaimed it his mission to shake off the label's dust. "I think Brioni wrongly picked up the image of being this dusty brand," he said. Back in the fifties, the label was leading the charge for new fabrics, like silk, and unusual colors. "I really want to put it back to the tradition of being innovative," he added. "It's the epitome of elegance, but not stuffy and old."
Brioni's gray-haired reputation is something that its previous creative director, Jason Basmajian, battled, too, and he had some success broadening the line's offerings to invite in new generations of fans. But Brioni may always be an older man's game. Few young men, save those of princely extraction, can afford the label's luxe—most gratuitously displayed here in the form of a crocodile bomber with white gold zips and a mink lining.
The collection's styles remained studiously, if pleasantly, untrendy, inspired by luxury train travel. But Mullane's initial outing included smart steps in an evolving direction. He introduced a new suit fit, the Gaetano, slimming the arms, raising the armholes, and tapering the legs while maintaining the traditional Brioni natural shoulder. And he worked to unify the collection by using materials and details across categories: Suiting may be Brioni's trump card, but now its jackets feature the same hand-stitching as its suit jackets, accompanied by bags in the same fabrics as its outerwear.