A trip to Italy for Brunello Cucinelli's eyewear offers insight into a brand to behold

The Italian company's first permanent range features sunglasses for men and women, a selection of which is available in the UAE

Model Karolina Kurkova at the Brunello Cucinelli eyewear launch in Rome. Photo: Brunello Cucinelli
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When prestigious Italian brand Brunello Cucinelli unveiled its exclusive eyewear line last month, it was a moment of sheer elegance. The grand reveal took place at a lavish party in a hilltop villa, offering guests – this writer included – a sunset view over Rome.

Such nonchalant largesse is seemingly typical for a brand that has been delivering impeccable clothing since 1978. A dab hand at comfortable, effortless looks, it has built a reputation for underplayed style, in neutral shades of white, silver, grey, beige, brown and navy blue. Clad in these tones, underneath the tall, spindly Roman pine trees, a troop of models drifted among the gardens wearing the new glasses.

The arrival of the 30 or so models was not followed by a formal speech from the founder, owner, chief executive and creative director of the eponymous house, Brunello Cucinelli himself, but rather warm smiles and handshakes for models and clients alike.

We discovered later that creating the eyewear line had taken a full year, yet Cucinelli did not grandstand or show off, giving a fascinating insight into an empire built around the idea of discretion. Later, he was spotted dressing guests in the glasses, clearly delighted by the result.

Describing the new line, the designer called it a “phenomenal product resulting from heartfelt collaboration, [which] represents an outstanding piece of luxury craftsmanship”. Adding, “Plato said: ‘Beauty is the splendour of truth’. This is why I wholeheartedly hope that our glasses, which are so true and beautiful, will please customers and achieve all the success they deserve.”

The eyewear is a natural extension for the company, which is known for its men’s and women’s wear, homeware, children’s wear, leather goods and perfumes, making the new arrival a logical fit. While the house’s overall style may be languid, the prices are not. Frames start at about Dh2,000, going up to more than Dh8,000 for the horn and titanium models.

The first product of a 10-year deal signed with Essilor Luxottica in November 2022, this collection is a marriage of Cucinelli’s taste with the technical know-how of the French-Italian eyewear specialists. While it may not be the first collection released by the brand – that honour goes to a previous limited-edition collaboration with Oliver Peoples – this marks the permanent arrival of eyewear to the company’s stable. Offered in 14 styles, divided into five categories, the range carries customers from an updated aviator, through recycled acetate, to titanium.

The Multimaterico collection, for example, pays homage to the company’s pared-back ready-to-wear items, offering frames that are delightfully unfussy. The Trama line, meanwhile, is inspired by Brunello Cucinelli jewellery, including its signature anthracite grey beading spun into bracelet cuffs, sautoir necklaces and dangling earrings.

In addition to frames in classic black and silver, there is a touch of warmth, through peach-tinted tones and rose gold detailing. Elsewhere, as part of the Pattern collection, glasses arrive in enticing tones such as midnight grey, burgundy or transparent brown with ice grey, while the oversized frames appear in champagne and rosy peach or the exotic-sounding panama and beluga grey.

The Stema line is centred around manufacturing excellence and is filled with custom-made elements such as embedded cores and riveted hinges, while across the range, materials include reclaimed acetate, horn frames and titanium machined in Japan. Frames are presented in colours such as light gold, rose gold, bronze, silver and natural horn, while the lenses come in grey blue, warm brown, taupe and ochre, in photochromic and polarised finishes to block glare.

All frames feature the brand’s name and part of the Brunello Cucinelli logo.

As both Cucinelli family and company have been based in Solomeo, a medieval Umbrian village, for the past 30 years, the hamlet has become entwined with its history. The family has spent years painstakingly restoring the village, piece by piece, and in return, has adopted a carving found on the wall of a 12th-century church as its logo.

Featuring a winged griffin over a fortified tower, flanked by ribbons, the carving bears the inscription Solomei AD MCCCXCI (1391). It is this written part of the logo that is now featured on the bridge of the new eyewear collection. The inscription is a charming example of recycling history, sitting perfectly with the acetate frames that comprise 27 per cent recycled material, thanks to Carbon renewal technology, which can combine different types of post-consumer waste plastics to give them a new life.

Having launched his company in 1978 as a small studio offering hand-dyed Mongolian cashmere – a material then unheard of – Cucinelli spent the following decades fine-tuning an exacting eye, earning him the moniker King of Cashmere. He has carefully built his business to cater for the different facets of a polished lifestyle enjoyed by his discerning clients.

Over the years, the house has come to epitomise a muted discretion, told via a neutral palette that, in turn, nods to the village of Solomeo and the beauty of the natural world.

The restrained palette means that not only do pieces from different collections all work together, a crucial element for building legacy into a wardrobe, but everything is also infused with an easy, unfussy elegance so prized in Italian fashion.

This restraint is so ingrained – the company only recently expanded the palette to include black – it has become something of a byword for the ultra-rich and those who prefer not to show off.

Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg, who sits on a personal fortune of $170 billion, prefers to dress down in pigeon grey T-shirts custom-made by Brunello Cucinelli. While at first glance this may feel like an odd pairing, digging a little deeper it makes perfect sense. Zuckerberg, like many ultra-high-net-worth individuals, has no desire to advertise his wealth, but instead craves well-executed comfort. For its part, Brunello Cucinelli aims to offer a way of dressing that is always chic without braggadocio.

Updated: April 26, 2024, 12:37 PM