Visiting the Brunello Cucinelli Manufacture

«I wanted a small part of the company’s profits to go to beautify all of humanity and I wanted people to work a fair amount of hours and be online the right amount of time, so that Technology and Humanism could be harmonised and a healthy balance between mind, soul and body could be restored, because the soul and body also need nourishment every day.» – Brunello Cucinelli

Another highlight of my trip to Umbria with Brunello Cucinelli and my NET-À-PORTERicon and MR PORTER family was visiting the manufacture. The palatial headquarters are modern, clean and providing the employees with a wonderful work environment. Initially established at the castle in Solomeo, the company was relocated to the valley below to completely newly constructed buildings.

The beautiful grounds of the company.

The ancient medieval buildings in the center of Solomeo now host the classrooms of the School of Contemporary Arts and Crafts –  a tuition-free arts school to teach traditional skills like gardening and, of course, tailoring, set up in 2013.

Happily reminded of my own fashion design studies.

Brunello’s wife Federica was born in Solomeo and ran a small clothing shop there in the village. During their early engagement in 1978, Brunello came across the idea to venture into a knitwear business with colorful cashmere sweaters. His first success, he told me, started in the German-speaking market, that showed a huge interest and appreciation for this unprecedented proposition and this allowed his company to quickly emerge. Cucinelli is no ordinary Italian fashion magnate. Today it is a cashmere empire selling luxury goods in the top segment with 7,000 employees and a turnover of €200m, but Cucinelli is also known for his «humanistic» approach to capitalism, based on respect for people and nature. In  the manufacture you can experience this approach fully.

When you enter the main building, you pass by the advertising campaign photo for F/W 2014 in which you see a long table in the Umbrian countryside with all the employees lined up for dinner. It was an actual photo taken during a company’s event. The quote for the picture: «All things come from the Earth.» – Xenophanes. Brunello Cucinelli is one big family!

Every day at midday, the entire staff is invited to the cafeteria for a family-style lunch complete with several courses, wine, and beautiful views of the Umbrian hills. Creating a nourishing work environment for body and soul is something that is very dear to Brunello Cucinelli. Around 5.30pm the power goes off and workers are encouraged not to work long hours and write after-hours e-mails. For Brunello Cucinelli being away from work is an important part of being effective at work.

The fashion designer, a lover of history, philosophy and country life, has also opened the doors to his office for us. A very intimate and welcoming gesture that impressed me. I entered a neat and tidy space, yet full of life. The books in the shelves are not only for decoration, Brunello indulges in them, always on the hunt for a great quote of inspiration. The room is also filled with articles about him and his company. Photos of his beautiful family add the personal touch. The view is spectacular, overlooking the beautiful tranquil Umbrian scenery.

Walking through the manufacture, I experienced the different steps of creating a stunning cashmere piece along with the impressive quality control. Once you see all the craftsmanship that goes into one item, you will appreciate it even more.

Later we went to «The Parco della Bellezza» on the outskirts of the village, at the grandly titled monument «Tribute To Human Dignity», a classically styled exedra with five arches, built from travertine. The creation stems from Brunello Cucinelli’s desire to leave a legacy behind that will stand the test of time, a symbol of his commitment to mankind and to create a park that could give new life to the breathtaking landscape of the valley below Solomeo. It also boasts a multitude of orchards, as well as wheat and sunflower plantations; it comprises a plant nursery, a naturalistic area, an olive grove with an olive oil mill, and a vineyard with a wine cellar that hosts an impressive collection of Italian wines.

Brunello Cucinelli concluded his speech to the World’s Great Leaders on the occasion of the G20 last year with this phrase: «From the time of Plato, through all the medieval scholastic philosophy, and then in the Enlightenment, up to idealism, positivism, existentialism and finally to the present day, the usefulness of contact with something beautiful, be it a painting, a book, or a landscape, is the seed from which the tree of wisdom grows, that wisdom that the human being cannot do without for their best life.»

At the Brunello Cucinelli company, treating people well is at the core of everything, and fostering a beautiful culture is as important as producing the most beautiful clothes. It seems that Italians really do it better or as Giuseppe Verdi said: «You may have the universe, if I may have Italy

TO SHOP BRUNELLO CUCINELLI AT NET-À-PORTER. CLICK HERE PLEASE.

LoL, Sandra

Photos: © Sandra Bauknecht
DISCLOSURE: We may earn commission from links on this page, but I only recommend products I love. Promise.

Dinner with Brunello Cucinelli in Solomeo

Life will move on, but memories are forever. One event that I will always remember is the lovely dinner I had with Italian-born knitwear specialist Brunello Cucinelli (68) and his family at his home in Solomeo this weekend, co-hosted by MR PORTER Managing Director Fiona Firth. Launched in 1978, his brand is renowned for its ethical and philosophical approach to business, as much as its sumptuous fabrics and timeless color palette. With a focus on dyed and embellished cashmere and chic separates, his seasonless pieces are true wardrobe investments.

Being described as «the king of cashmere», he is based in the tranquil surroundings of Solomeo – a 14th century Umbrian village near Assisi. A place that lies deep in Brunello’s heart as it represents the core of his family, business and spiritual life. It is actually his wife’s home village. More recently the company business, which was initially established at the castle in Solomeo, was relocated to the valley below; the ancient medieval buildings now host the classrooms of the School of Contemporary Arts and Crafts, set up in 2013.


The Hamlet is now even more closely linked to the Forum of the Arts, and one might even say that the whole of Solomeo is an area devoted to culture, to art, to traditions, to history, to a happy life. Thanks to Cucinelli’s dedication, this beautiful little village has been completely restored. He has also built a theatre considered to be a secular temple of art, a library, the new Universal Library of Solomeo, reminiscent of his own where people can read books in a beautiful eighteenth-century villa, then a monument to the Dignity of Man and an immense park called «Project for Beauty». Before dinner, Brunello Cucinelli showed us around and explained us passionately the projects.

Brunello Cucinelli is a very captivating man. He speaks French fluently, for English he has a translator. We had our dinner conversation in French and it was very impressive to learn more about him, his strong family ties, the way he likes to give back and how he preserves cultural goods. He donates 20% of his profits through the Brunello Cucinelli Foundation. He believes in a very modern concept: Being good to people and to the environment will always pay off in the long run.

Brunello loves philosophy, everywhere in Solomeo you can find famous quotes by famous philosophers that are important to him. He also uses them in speeches. Cucinelli is the closest thing the luxury world has to a philosopher – he dropped out of college to pursue his own agenda of philosophical reading. «I live and work as an Italian, but I think like a Greek.»

«Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never merely as a means to an end, but always at the same time as an end» (I. Kant)

Growing up in rather poor conditions, he saw how his father was  subject to humiliation. Therefore the way you treat others has become an essential part of his life. Giving back to the community is extremely important to him. As his clothing empire has expanded, Cucinelli has spent untold sums revitalizing Solomeo. Not only has he refurbished its infrastructure, he’s also opened a tuition-free arts school to teach traditional skills like gardening and, of course, tailoring and invisible mending.

He told us about the speech he gave in Rome past October to the World’s Great Leaders on the occasion of the G20.

«Humanistic capitalism has been the guideline for my conduct as an entrepreneur from the very beginning, and I have imagined and come up with this definition for my enterprise. What I mean by humanistic capitalism is precisely this idea, this concept of a fair and sustainable profit, a profit harmonised with giving back: striking a balance between profit and giving back; donating to the world as guardians of creation, leaving to those coming after us not the very same world we found, but a more amiable one. I envisage humanistic capitalism as a great harmony within which profit, giving back, guardianship, human dignity and the ethics of truth coexist and enrich each other.» – Brunello Cucinelli

Brunello is a big family man – the Cucinelli clan lives in neighbouring homes in Solomeo. The founder’s two daughters, Camilla and Carolina, work in the family business and Cucinelli’s son-in-law, Riccardo Stefanelli, was recently appointed joint CEO in 2020 after 14 years in the company. Carolina is co-president and co-creative director of the company. Her husband Alessio Piastrelli works on the menswear team. Camilla sits on the board and is part of the womenswear design team.

Cucinelli’s father lived with him until he died last year at age 100. His wife Federica and himself have been together since their teenage years. The couple has now three grandchildren. The eldest, Victoria, seems to have inherited a lot from her grandpa. The two get a long so well. It was a true pleasure speaking to the 12-year old young lady. When we asked her, where she would love to live when she is older, she immediately replied: «Nowhere else than Solomeo

In 2012, Cucinelli took the $810 million (2021 revenues) company public, listing its shares on the Italian stock exchange. In 2014, Brunello Cucinelli has transferred his entire stake in the firm to a trust – a relative uncommon structure in Italy – to benefit his daughters and ensure the continuation of his philantrophic work.

When I asked him why he has never done a fashion show, he told me: «My clothes have to be felt, touched and seen in real life. In our showroom we offer this experience. Therefore I was never interested in doing a runway presentation

As it started raining upon arrival, the tables were moved from the Hamlet to a covered area overlooking the valley and the theatre. The food was traditional Italian, served family style. The appetizers included one of my favorite local recipes, panzanella, an Umbrian dish of bread and tomatoes, that gives you immediately the flavor of a warm Italian summer night. As a main course, we were treated to different sorts of freshly baked crispy pizzas. I loved the one with no cheese and only fresh tomatoes.

Being part of the Brunello Cucinelli clan for one weekend made me think that the Maison is different, it’s absolutely worth the price, it’s not just the cashmere and outstanding craftsmanship, I will tell you more about in one of my next posts, but the philosophy of giving back we are buying into.

TO SHOP BRUNELLO CUCINELLI AT NET-À-PORTER. CLICK HERE PLEASE.
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LoL, Sandra

Photos: © Sandra Bauknecht
DISCLOSURE: We may earn commission from links on this page, but I only recommend products I love. Promise.

Wanderlust Sweaters

Do you feel this wanderlust, this strong desire to travel the world? I love travelling the world and hope that soon our lives will be back to normal and less restricted to explore the world. Gabriela Hearst created a sweater series this season that I have fallen in love with.

In her exploration of North, Central and South America this season, The designer wanted to translate some of the continent’s most beautiful places into colorful knitwear patterns. Knit in 100% cashmere for the ultimate in luxury and softness, the Ines Sweater depicts:

  • the high mountains and ski runs in Aspen, Colorado
  • the Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park
  • the ancient mountain ridges and ruins in Machu Picchu, Peru (on my bucket list)
  • Teotihuacán, the ancient Aztec pyramid known as the Temple of the Sun outside of Mexico City.

Knit and hand embroidered by artisans in Italy, those sweaters are as unique as they are beautiful.
To order just click on the highlighted texts above. Wouldn’t it be an amazing gift to surprise someone with a trip to one of the destinations and gift the sweater as a gift voucher…

LoL, Sandra

Aspen


Yellowstone


Machu Picchu

Teotihuacán

Photos: © Sandra Bauknecht / Gabriela Hearst
DISCLOSURE: We may earn commission from links on this page, but I only recommend products I love. Promise.

Trending F/W 2021: Cutout Sweaters

If you’re sorting through which trends are worth investing for winter, then don’t overlook this Instagram-worthy style: cutout sweaters. Preferably oversized, these minimal yet revealing details are a welcome departure from the tight and slinky cutouts of past, making them both stylishly unexpected and actually wearable.

Celebrities such as Kourtney Kardashian have been sporting the trend lately, which means cutout knits have staying power in your wardrobe well into the season, even when the weather takes a turn for the cold temperatures. Here are my favorites:

Cutout embellished cashmere and cotton-blend sweater by Area

Oversized cutout ribbed wool sweatericon by Valentino

Cutout wool and cashmere-blend and satin sweatericon by JW Anderson

Cutout cashmere-blend turtleneck sweatericon by Victoria Beckham

Crystal-fringed cutout wool sweatericon by Christopher Kane

I went for Valentino and Area and cannot wait to show you how I wear them … stay tuned!

LoL, Sandra

Photos: Courtesy of the Brands and via Instagram
DISCLOSURE: We may earn commission from links on this page, but I only recommend products I love. Promise.

Prada’s Eleventh Drop of New Timecapsule

Prada presents the eleventh drop of the new Prada Timecaspule, an exclusive product for men and women: exclusively at prada.com the first Thursday of every month, for 24 hours only.

Reminiscent of vintage silhouettes, the new Timecapsule wool sweater is animated by an original graphic blending a ’70s-tinged aesthetic with modern takes on classic knitwear motifs. Traditional argyle geometries transform into an unexpected, pixel-inspired jacquard pattern, while a triangular macro inlay evoking retro skiwear designs adds striking contrast.

An exclusive product for men and women: a limited number of articles, exclusively online, for 24 hours only November 4, 2021, the new drop of Prada Timecapsule is signed with a serial number that makes it unique.

TECHNICAL DETAILS
Jacquard knit – Chevron intarsia – Unisex fit with a vintage-inspired silhouette – Crewneck – Regular shoulder – Ribbed knit trims – Jacquard logo – Price: € 1500.

The sweater is available here. Next drop will be on December 2, 2021.

LoL, Sandra

Photos: © Prada

Trending: Half-Zip Sweater

This knitwear piece should definitely be on your fall shopping list: the half-zip sweater. I promise, it will add instant cozy to your wardrobe.

Half-zip sweaters are simultaneously effortless and polished, and the best part is they come in a range of colors and textures across all budgets. I love eye-catching details like oversized collars or ribbed waists. Ahead, my favorites of half-zip sweaters to shop now. Enjoy!

LoL, Sandra

Ribbed wool and cashmere-blend sweatericon by Alaïa

Risoul cropped layered ribbed merino wool sweater by Jacquemus (my favorite)


Mouline wool and cashmere-blend sweater by Alexa Chungicon

Hester ribbed cashmere sweater by Nili Lotan

iconBowee ribbed wool-blend sweatericon by Equipment

Giana knitted sweatericon by REMAIN Birger Christensen

Tiphaine ribbed merino wool sweatericon by Officine Générale

Rane cotton-blend sweater by Isabel Marant
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Photos: Courtesy of the Brands
DISCLOSURE: We may earn commission from links on this page, but I only recommend products I love. Promise.

Prada’s Fourth Drop of New Timecapsule


Today, on April 1st, 2021, the fourth drop of the Prada Timecapsule new series, dedicated to knitwear, will be launched on prada.com – at 3pm CET – for 24 hours only. Prada Timecapsule is an exclusive product drop of 50 items, occurring once a month, each first Thursday.

For this new drop, Prada Timecapsule presents a modernist sweater, combining jacquard patterns from Prada archive with a sportswear-inspired maxi triangle inlay. The Prada logo is reinterpreted on the front of the item and the triangle with the drop date stands out on the back.

TECHNICAL DETAILS
Jacquard pattern – Unisex fit with a vintage inspired silhouette – Ribbed collar – Regular shoulder – Ribbed cuffs and hem – Jacquard logo. Made In Italy. Price: € 1.200.

Next drop will be Thursday, May 6th, 2021.

LoL, Sandra

Photos: © Prada

Prada’s Third Drop of New Timecapsule

On March 4th, 2021, the third drop of the Prada Timecapsule new series, dedicated to knitwear, will be launched on prada.com – at 3pm CET – for 24 hours only. Prada Timecapsule is an exclusive product drop of 50 items, occurring once a month, each first Thursday.

This wool sweater is characterized by a «vintage» shape and an original graphic and modernist motif that combines two contrasting patterns from the Prada archive. The Prada logo is reinterpreted on the front of the item and the triangle with the drop date stands out on the back.

TECHNICAL DETAILS

Double pattern – Unisex fit with a vintage inspired silhouette – Ribbed collar – Regular shoulder – Ribbed cuffs and hem – Jacquard logo. Made In Italy. Price: € 1.100.

Next drop will be Thursday, April 1st, 2021.

LoL, Sandra

Photos: © Prada

Prada’s Second Drop of New Timecapsule

On February 4th, 2021, the second drop of the new series of Timecapsule dedicated to knitwear will be launched on prada.com – at 3pm CET – for 24 hours only. Prada Timecapsule is an exclusive product drop of 50 items, occurring once a month, each first Thursday.

The wool sweater is defined by an original graphic pattern – inspired by the Prada archive motifs – and presents modernist details linked to the world of sports. The Prada logo is reinterpreted on the front of the item, while the triangle with the date of the drop stands on the back.

Enabled by the new Prada e-commerce platform, the Timecapsule section is available in Europe
(Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Monaco, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom),
Japan, South Korea, China, USA, Canada, Brazil, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Taiwan and UAE. Prada Timecapsule will reach other markets over the course of 2021 following the new prada.com layout-relaunching calendar.

TECHNICAL DETAILS
Jacquard pattern – Unisex fit with a vintage inspired silhouette – Ribbed collar – Regular shoulder – Ribbed cuffs and hem – Inlay logo. Made In Italy. Price: € 1.100.

Next drop will be on March 4th, 2021.

LoL, Sandra

Photos: © Prada

Lively, Chic and Undeniably Etro

Cardigans are experiencing a resurgence as a key element in the contemporary wardrobe. I personally love Etro’s covetable statement pieces. Lengthy silhouettes suit the moment’s layering obsession when worn like a longline jacket, while the vibrant jacquard prints highlights the brand’s bohemian aesthetic. One thing is for sure, those knitwear pieces will transform even the most minimalist of outfits into a celebration of maximalism, and greats news is most of them are all on sale. Lively, chic and undeniably Etro.

LoL, Sandra

Belted wool-blend jacquard cardigan by Etro (New Season)


Hooded belted embroidered wool-blend jacquard cardigan by Etro (40% off)


iconFringed jacquard-knit cardigan by Etro (30% off)


iconFringed jacquard-knit cardigan by Etro (30% off)


Wool and silk jacquard cardigan by Etro (30% off)

Intarsia wool-blend cardigan by Etro (30% off)

Long jacquard cardigan by Etro (30% off)

Wool-blend jacquard cardigan by Etro (50% off)

Wool and cashmere-blend jacquard cardigan by Etro (30% off)

Photos: © Sandra Bauknecht and Stills: © Etro
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