Brunello Cucinelli: Smart casual has a new champion

The fashion designer tells us how he wants to dress men for AW17 and why he's reinvented a once-traditional fabric


It's all about blending – just like in a modern alchemist's laboratory. My collection for next autumn/winter contains a unique mix of carefully selected ingredients. From casual to sartorial, from neutral to colour, from fine fabrics and materials to artisan craftsmanship, it is all about a distinctive blend.

I have long had the idea of creating versatile clothing for everyday situations, from work to leisure – impeccable clothes that men can wear with ease. The fundamental philosophy here is one of casual sartorial. Here there is a relationship between shapes, colours and materials. Comfort and elegance are seamlessly combined to create a new "smooth" fit, which features a slightly softer and more relaxed line. This is a modern silhouette – the jacket has a tight-fitting chest and slightly more prominent shoulders, while trousers, though still narrow, have new volumes, created through the use of pleats. The result is a combination of classical elegance and modern style – again, a distinctive blend.

One innovation I am very interested in is the use of corduroy in a contemporary way. Corduroy has always had a very stiff look, but we were able to manufacture this very light version using Sea Island cotton. In this way, corduroy can be very chic and casual and at the same time very gentlemanly. We have treated it so that it works in our blend of casual sartorial – it has a narrow wale [the width of the cord] and comes in different colours.

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Handled like this, corduroy becomes a more youthful material. Traditionally, you may imagine it as something more conservative. But my soft, lightweight, narrow corduroy is, by contrast, contemporary – a 30-year-old guy who may not normally wear a blazer could quite happily wear a separate jacket in this fabric. This is not a stiff look – it's precisely because corduroy has the reputation for being a bit stiff that we have manufactured this special quality. We've made it comfortable. And this is not a country look – corduroy is often associated with the country: I want corduroy to go to the city. I want to be an urban citizen wearing this and be in the city.

Perhaps, then, my modern Sea Island cotton corduroy is yet another example of how this new collection is built on blends – in this case a blend of traditional fabric with a modern treatment, and country cloth with urban style.

BRUNELLO CUCINELLI founded his eponymous fashion brand in the 1980s, fast becoming renowned for his innovative use of cashmere;

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