Brunello Cucinelli’s Next Order of Business? Restoring an Old Italian Town

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Brunello Cucinelli’s father once gave him some blunt advice: There’s no indicate in being a richest male in a graveyard. In September, Cucinelli steady that version while vocalization to a throng of 500 reporters during a perfection of his latest munificent project—the replacement of a twelfth-century city of Solomeo. About dual and a half hours north of Rome, a hilltop community has nauseating significance: It’s where his mother grew up, and Cucinelli himself was innate not distant away. But it also represents a designer’s engrossment with a declining Italy, where a aged ways of life persist, composed by digital incursions.

Cucinelli is frequency a usually Italian conform name to take an seductiveness in his country’s patrimony. Bulgari easy Rome’s Spanish Steps and Fendi a Trevi Fountain, while Only a Brave owner and authority Renzo Rosso helped rehabilitate a Rialto Bridge in Venice, and Gucci donated toward a refuge of dual shade treasures, La Dolce Vita and The Leopard. But Cucinelli’s plan is not focused on a singular monument. He’s aiming to reanimate a area as a whole—not only formulating jobs in his Umbria-based association and a surrounding workshops via Italy, though elevating a devout life of a whole region.

The city serves as a microcosm of his ideal society. Since a mid-’80s, he’s done poignant inroads, building a new museum and substantiating a qualification school. His many new further is a travertine relic “to tellurian dignity” he built in a hollow outward Solomeo, where he’s also ripped down industrial buildings and transposed them with olive trees, orchards, and a winery. The engineer calls a beginning “A Project for Beauty,” and it represents a joining to giving behind that defines him roughly as most as his oppulance cashmere things do. “It’s inbred in me,” he says. “Growing adult in a countryside, we didn’t have really much, though we were endangered for people who had reduction than we did.” He dubs his ethos “humanistic capitalism”: Twenty percent of his increase go to munificent endeavors, and everybody who works for him advantages from a cafeteria charity a three-course meal, prepared with products from internal farms (like Cucinelli’s olive oil), for only 3 euros.

Increasingly, a feel-good certification of a conform brand—look during Toms or Shinola—have turn partial of a appeal, a proceed to symbol this span of cloth slip-ons as implicitly higher to that pair. But does a chairman who snaps up, say, one of Cucinelli’s $3,725 cashmere hoodies caring about his extracurricular pursuits? “I would wish that my business conclude it,” he says. “Everything that we purchase, from a cheese to a watch, we would like for it to be constructed with honour to man, to a land, and also to animals.” Given a proceed conform is headed—with a increasing inspection of sustainability and a supply chain—perhaps Cucinelli’s proceed will shortly turn a norm, not a exception.

This essay creatively seemed in a Dec 2018 emanate of ELLE.

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