The models at Berluti tonight were lounging in the paved courtyard of the Musée Picasso, soaking up the last of the day's sweltering rays in boxer shorts, socks, and shoes, the only outfit adapted to the Parisian weather. "What should one wear on a first date?" asked the day's edition of the Berluti News. As you were, lads!
As an extension of the Berluti universe, the show once more cemented the lightness and tongue-in-cheek character that creative director Alessandro Sartori and CEO Antoine Arnault have been trying to impart since the beginning. The trick here is that whatever technical sleight-of-hand are going on behind the creative scenes, they never show on the surface. At least not before slipping into that perfect blazer. Every item comes off as effortless, and the process behind it, exquisite. In this rarefied uppermost strata of menswear, if Hermès is the buttoned up older brother, then Berluti is without doubt the younger, more fun layabout. Why else would the opening seven looks telegraph Byronic foppery?
Competing in this high-flying league, there is no doubt that the resulting collection looks eminently approachable. It isn't so much about the bespoke clients – for whom Berluti is vying for attention against houses working only in made-to-measure – as about those with pockets deep enough to cross the shop's threshold with intent, armed with an appreciation for the craftsmanship, but no time to spare. The very idea seems ludicrous. After all, who would spend such a chunk of cash on ready-to-wear? But the fact is that there is demand for an exquisite sweater with a cunningly folded double-V collar, an apple green grandfather cardigan, or a paper-thin leather pop-over. Does it mean that the utilitarian looking parka will be treated any better than a regular parka? Imagine, just for a moment of suspended disbelief, that it hangs in front of you. Of course it wouldn't, and neither is it destined to be.
In purporting a not so reverent approach to luxury, Sartori is bringing evolution to a field that moves with the speed of molasses in Antarctica. Business casual comes with a smart jacket and too-cool-for-school slip-ons. Codes have been shifting, and so has the clientele. With the roomy carry-alls or multi-compartment briefcases, the models looked well-ready to go somewhere. Berluti too, by extension. But in a season rife with bold statements, Berluti whispered despite its quiet younger, more active image in a summer palette of brights.