Brunello Cucinelli: Italian Style, Whatever Your Age
In its exclusive collection with MR PORTER, the Solomeo-based brand offers an adaptable luxury wardrobe for men of all generations.
Almost everything you ever read about the sport of fencing will at some point feature the words “elegance” and “nobility”. And indeed visions of duels, knightly chivalry, and long days being mentored in the art and science of swordplay still come to mind when you mention the sport. In fact, in the parlance of the sport, fencers are known as “duelists”. They enter the fencing strip as if it were a stage, illuminated by spotlights, and accompanied by attendants who carry their belongings. It is a sport that prizes the knowledge and wisdom of age as much as it does the deftness of youth. This meant that when MR PORTER was planning the launch of an exclusive collection from Brunello Cucinelli – a brand whose ultra-refined take on Italian luxury has a timeless, ageless quality to it – fencing seemed like the perfect fit.
Messrs Diego Confalonieri, 39, and Luigi Samele, 31, who are pictured here, are two Olympian fencers who embody the ideals of the 60-piece collection, available exclusively from this week on MR PORTER: specifically, mentorship, dedication to craft, and an appreciation of a beauty that appeals across the generations. We asked them to put the relaxed elegance of the Brunello Cucinelli collection to the test during the course of a day in Milan and they most certainly rose to the challenge, strolling along the city’s cobbled streets in Cucinelli’s wonderfully soft tailoring and outstanding shearling outerwear, before swapping the blazers for sabres in a short training session and switching up, afterwards, into some equally appealing sportswear pieces. Of course, when everything is this exceptional, it’s easy to mix and match the formal with the casual, which is part of the point of the whole collection. Jackets come in precious yarns such as cashmere and silk, but are offered in half-lined constructions, for an easy, unfussy fit. Sportswear, meanwhile, is executed with equal attention to detail. A down gilet comes filled hand-selected feathers, and a cashmere hood. A pair of sweatpants are deftly cut with stitched creases down the front that nod to the world of tailoring.
But back to fencing: though similarly accomplished, Mr Confaloniere (who scooped the bronze medal in the team epée event in the 2008 Olympics) and Mr Samele (a one-time winner of the Fencing World Cup) came to the sport by different paths. Mr Samele was just a boy getting a haircut at the barbershop with his older brother when a fencing coach spotted them and asked both to try out for his team. Mr Samele’s older brother Riccardo grew to become one of the most important international fencing referees and Luigi went on to win the Junior World Cup in 2005, when he was barely 18 years old. Mr Confalonieri, on the other hand, was originally a football fanatic. His mother however, had other ideas. She steered him away from soccer, worried about the violence that surrounded the game back then. It was, judging by his bulging award cabinet, a wise choice.
Plaudits aside, what Mr Confalonieri appreciates more than anything is good sportsmanship, and as an athlete and a teacher of young fencers, he attempts to carry himself with elegance and power in equal measure. “I have an appreciation for what you would call ‘good manners’ and refinement,” he says. For Mr Samele, such elegance is also worth striving for. “My first true love, and one I will never shake off, was for foil fencing. It has a certain kind of harmony that doesn’t belong to sabre fencing. Sabre, which is what I do now, is instinctive, fast, and tenacious. Everything happens in a fraction of a second. You have to be tougher than your adversary and you have to be fast. Foil on the other hand involves a certain kind of research, it’s an art form. Its elegance is what drew me to it.”
Mr Confalonieri is no stranger to the world of style; he has modelled for several campaigns and his wife works in fashion, too. “Our life is punctuated by fashion weeks,” he says, laughing. Today he works as a high level fencing coach and is dedicated to mentoring students in his newly opened gym, MilanoScherma. He looks for graceful movements and dedication in his students. “I enjoy observing the efforts of fencers from an aesthetic point of view,” he says. “Fencing is an extremely visual sport. Now that I am a technician I keep a very special and keen eye on the athletes’ movements and the harmony they contribute to the scene… When I look for perfection in an athlete, I look for grace and style, which is in a sense close to what Cucinelli does with his own approach to fashion.”
Mr Samele concurs he enjoyed the opportunity to spend a day in the Brunello Cucinelli collection. “The quality of the clothes was incredible,” he says, “but I also felt quite at ease walking around Milan looking that way. The brand needs no introduction. For someone like me, used to getting around in sweatpants, it felt great to wear something that was a little more recherché or elegant. I discovered the idea that you can have style and feel at ease at the same time. You can really set yourself apart from the masses of white shirt-and-black-suit-wearing clones. It’s quite satisfying.”