After affirming its heritage, it was time to play at Berluti where summer was celebrated in style in the gardens of the Ecole des Mines, not only with the presentation of its summer collection, but also with an "al-dente" party where eminent friends of the house were asked to contribute their favorite recipe. A general sense of fun and quirkiness is starting to emanate from the company, obviously carefully calculated by Alessandro Sartori and Antoine Arnault. How else explain the gaggle of lime green origami penguins guarding shoes that we walked through to get to the gardens? But first things first, the clothes.
Sprezzatura, that laissez-faire ruse where little voluntary imperfections charm, was the unsung hero of an evening of nonchalant grace. Considering the uppermost niche that Berluti has been angling for, the casual feel imparted by utilitarian pockets on jackets, translating a voyager's wardrobe for warmer climes, feels like thunderclap in clear skies. Alessandro Sartori played with his materials like an orchestra conductor would, drawing each into its pitch perfection. That included leathers as well, which the designer selected paper thin, in order to cut paper bag shaped backpacks or a fantastic blazer. In every detail that Sartori has added, innovation abounds, most of it invisible at first glance. Ease of movement is enhanced in order for the clothes to become one with the wearer. Even the palette of neutrals and muted bright colors - including a fantastic mustard yellow - felt current, but not datable to any particular season. Also perfectly pitched were the sneakers and slip-ons which went with the ensembles, and which enhanced that sense of contemporary ownership of these luxurious elements. The illusion was so complete and so naturally delivered that each model seemed to be entirely at ease on this runway, right down to the one carrying a cute pup (unquestionably the true star of the show). Later on during the cocktail, there was further confirmation of this as models mingled, still in their finery.
In an industry plagued by its schedule and the marketing of planned obsolescence, it is a powerful statement from a brand such as Berluti to offer up items that are not only luxurious in creation and delivery, but have also been developed with use and transmission in mind. The sublime craftsmanship of its ateliers, and those who were folded into the house over the past few years, has finally combusted into a brasero of refinement and experimentation through the careful stewardship of Sartori. For those who had not clearly understood this in the fall, it is time to sit up and listen.