Pier Luigi Loro Piana sails Costa Smeralda
Following the ninth edition of the Loro Piana Superyacht Regatta, Pier Luigi Loro Piana reflects on his love for the sport as well as how it inspired some of his signature sartorial creations.
It’d be a challenge to find someone who doesn’t like the ocean, the sea breeze, the occasional wild fish that jumps out of the water, and even the pesky seagulls that hover above with their pesky shrills. And when said ocean is that of the Smeralda Coast in the Italian Mediterranean, it makes you question why you’re not spending more time on the sea and less time doing whatever else you’re doing with your life.
In the particularly surreal Italian seaside port of Porto Cervo, Sardinia’s answer to Disneyland for superyacht owners, the bluish emerald hue of the ocean seems to glisten just a little bit richer, more vibrant. This fantasyland, with its jewel-tone water and little houses, was built from scratch some during the 1950s and 1960s by Prince Karim Aga Khan to mimic that cliché small town Italy that you find on refrigerator magnets at tacky souvenir shops.
Porto Cervo, however inauthentic it might be, is is blessed with the unreplicable beauty of sea, islands, rock formations, and the seemingly endless horizon. It is here that the Loro Piana Superyacht Regatta takes place at the 50-year old Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, with its ninth edition recently completed.
The Mediterranean yachting lifestyle, even for those who know nothing of the sport, is one that’s easy to get used to. Between swimming with the fishes and drying that gritty, sea salt soaked hair on the deck, there are incredible moments of adrenaline, focus, and sportsmanship.
It was precisely the opportunity to connect with nature and the serenity that drew Pier Luigi Loro Piana to the sport. An opportunity to spend an afternoon or a few days out at sea, for Loro Piana, was something that he’s enjoyed from a young age. It was also something that connected the family together. “I used to sail and cruise with my brother. And when my children were still young enough and were willing to spend time with me on a yacht,” he joked, “it was always a time that I treasured.”
These days, Loro Piana is very much a part of the company’s namesake regatta. Without his sons this year, however, and despite leading a crew of over 20 men and women, his time on My Song still very much offers a time for personal reflection and family. It was revealed that, for the tenth time, nine of which were sponsored by the brand, his wife trailed behind during each of the race in a cruising yacht, cheering him on.
For a man who’s reportedly repurposed old sails from his yachts into ties and suitcases, he says he doesn’t give much thought to fashion when he’s out there manipulating the sails against the wind. Rather, he takes each journey as a chance to empty his mind and compartmentalise. “When I’m racing, I forget all my problems, the only thing on my mind is what I have to do to go faster. It’s intense, but it’s a very helpful way to relax,” he shares.
It does seem, though, that the opposite is true: the iconic cashmere leisure wear brand’s CEO is constantly thinking about the sea when he’s at work and coming up with new approaches to dressing well, and comfortable, for the deck.
An afternoon on My Song and it’s easy to understand why much thought is required for dressing the part of a sailor. You won’t get that beautiful sunkissed glow that usually results from a few leisurely hours on a cruising yacht. Instead, exposure to the elements– the harsh winds, the blazing heat, the more than occasional splash of crisp Mediterranean water can make or break a race.
“The boat is like a lab for testing out the garments. You’ve got 20 guys on the crew out there for several days, and we will know if a shirt is comfortable or if the linen trousers can protect the legs, and it’s a way for us to test the materials,” Pier Luigi Loro Piana says.
It’s through years of his personal experience at races and cursing around the world that’s led to the creation of some of the most iconic pieces from the house. “We created a three-ply twisted yarn, white, long sleeve polo that is lightweight and can protect the body from the sun,” he shares. Another iconic design is the reversible Windmate jacket that’s both a windbreaker and a cashmere jacket; a special Loro Piana Superyacht Regatta edition has been added to the collection this year.
The contemporary aesthetics of Loro Piana today, says, however, stems from more than functionality on board. Pieces are designed to let those who blend business with pleasure to easily transition from boat to business meetings.
As to which part of the world he enjoys making use of his versatile wardrobe; he counts Hong Kong as one of the most unique places he’s ever had the pleasure of sailing in. “We did the Loro Piana Around the Island Race in Hong Kong in 2006 and it was an incredible experience. We had a great time and really enjoyed the stunning view of the harbour.”
His favourite seas to sail, however, are still those in Italy. “I love St Tropez for sailing and the Mediterranean for cruising, especially in Capri and Amalfi. But for racing, I think Costa Smeralda here in Porto Cervo is the best.”
“WHEN I’M RACING, I FORGET ALL MY PROBLEMS, THE ONLY THING ON MY MIND IS WHAT I HAVE TO DO TO GO FASTER”