alessan­dro sar­tori

The de­signer’s swan song be­fore step­ping down as Ber­luti’s cre­ative di­rec­tor

DA MAN - Style - - Contents -

Lux­ury in the world of fash­ion may take many forms, but at its very core, it un­de­ni­ably boils down to fine crafts­man­ship. Con­stantly set­ting the bar for ex­em­plary crafts­man­ship in shoe­mak­ing for over 120 years is Ber­luti, a global brand that fi­nally ar­rives in Jakarta, In­done­sia, this year. Since 2012, the Parisian house has em­barked on a new yet very ex­cit­ing jour­ney: ready-to-wear col­lec­tions. This is when Alessan­dro Sar­tori, who had pre­vi­ously sat as cre­ative di­rec­tor for the Z Zegna la­bel, came into the com­pany. Known for his am­bi­tious sar­to­rial con­cepts, Sar­tori not only re­con­structed Ber­luti’s DNA as a brand but also, at one point, molded it anew by in­fus­ing cou­ture-like touches— mainly through an im­pres­sive blend of new ma­te­ri­als. Fur­ther­more, and per­haps more in­ter­est­ingly, he also added a sexy sporty zing to the brand’s cuts and styling. In his own words, a Ber­luti man is one that’s not con­strained within any par­tic­u­lar age group but has a very strong style. And that is just the be­gin­ning.

This sea­son couldn’t have been more ap­pro­pri­ate to in­tro­duce those un­fa­mil­iar with the brand to the par­tic­u­lar kind of lux­ury of­fered by Ber­luti. It also presents one fi­nal chance to see Sar­tori’s trade­mark style in the brand’s sea­sonal of­fer­ings, as he has re­lin­quished his po­si­tion as of early Fe­bru­ary 2016. Just like the brand’s ex­quis­ite footwear, Ber­luti leather jack­ets em­ploy a va­ri­ety of plush ma­te­rial. But more than just generic leather op­tions, Sar­tori used a new type of su­per-thin baby calf and the light­est kan­ga­roo leathers ever pro­duced, to craft what is per­haps the airi­est, most com­fort­able lux­ury wear this spring/ sum­mer sea­son has to of­fer.

No less strik­ing is the col­lec­tion’s pal­ette—the blue is nep­tu­nite navy blue and the gray is cal­cium gray, for in­stance. The coloring tech­niques em­ployed are painstak­ingly com­plex, born out of Sar­tori’s most in­trigu­ing con­cepts re­volv­ing around a city in In­dia. These, and many other touches, ex­em­plify Ber­luti’s rep­u­ta­tion as a time­less pi­o­neer and Alessan­dro Sar­tori’s eter­nal im­print on the brand’s aes­thet­ics. DA MAN: Ber­luti is cel­e­brat­ing its 120th an­niver­sary this year. Are there any big cel­e­bra­tions or per­haps spe­cial col­lec­tions planned to mark this spe­cial mile­stone? Alessan­dro Sar­tori: We had just launched our first book cel­e­brat­ing our 120 years of his­tory by bring­ing to light iconic shoes de­signed for or in­spired by twenty-six of Ber­luti’s most em­blem­atic cus­tomers, in­clud­ing Andy Warhol, Dean Martin, Patti Smith, Yves Saint Lau­rent and Zine­dine Zi­dane. DA: Ber­luti’s ready-to-wear col­lec­tion is now en­ter­ing its fifth year. How has this ini­tia­tive pro­gressed so far? AS: What I like the most is the mix be­tween her­itage and a very mod­ern ap­proach. I ac­tu­ally do that in my own life, too. We have made the brand evolve a lot, thanks to a long his­tory of know-how and very cre­ative and in­no­va­tive design meth­ods. DA: See­ing how Ber­luti was pre­vi­ously known as a footwear brand, how did you de­velop the ready-towear col­lec­tion? And what is the core aes­thet­ics of Ber­luti’s ready-to-wear? AS: Many Ber­luti cus­tomers were ask­ing about cloth­ing and tex­tiles to com­plete their wardrobe. So, when re­brand­ing the house, we al­ready felt that there was a space in the mar­ket for a well- crafted, qual­ity hand­made col­lec­tion. So, we started cre­at­ing the new Ber­luti sil­hou­ette from the bot­tom-up. DA: Could you take us through the in­spi­ra­tion be­hind Ber­luti’s spring/sum­mer of­fer­ings in 2016? AS: With our ate­liers, we have been work­ing with the lat­est in­no­va­tions in tex­tile tech­nol­ogy to cre­ate the most light­weight per­for­mance ma­te­ri­als and fash­ion

them into a mod­ern sum­mer wardrobe that is both hard­wear­ing and as light as a feather.

DA: What are these in­no­va­tions you men­tioned?

AS: We have de­vel­oped a range of new ma­te­ri­als to be as light­weight, durable and wa­ter­proof as pos­si­ble. These in­clude a tech­ni­cal, ul­tra-light, rain­re­sis­tant silk-pa­per blend; rub­ber­ized pa­per-touch cot­ton, which has a crisp, light feel that is per­fect for sum­mer; a mo­hair-wool blend for suit­ing; the light­est kan­ga­roo leather ever pro­duced, a mere 0.3mm thick with a linen-like feel.

The col­lec­tion also in­tro­duced a new type of pow­der- coated leather: Vitello Opaco, su­per-thin calf leather sealed with a wa­ter­proof mem­brane, which is then treated to pro­duce a com­pletely matt, densely pig­mented fin­ish.

All the fab­rics are as close to weight­less as tech­nol­ogy al­lows. For ex­am­ple, some jack­ets weigh as lit­tle as a shirt be­cause they are made in light pa­per-touch blends and have had all their in­ter­nal con­struc­tion stripped away.

DA: There is a rather unique pal­ette of out­fit col­ors shown on the spring/sum­mer 2016 run­ways, from the vi­brant green and the azure-like blue to the beau­ti­ful slate-gray. What was it that you wanted to ex­press with these hues?

AS: The col­lec­tion is in­spired by the mod­ernist ar­chi­tec­ture in the city of Chandi­garh in north­ern In­dia, de­signed by Le Cor­bus­ier in the early 1960s. I wanted to re­flect the crisp de­lin­eation be­tween the con­crete struc­tures of the city and the ver­dant

parkland that sur­rounds it in the bright col­ors and sharp sil­hou­ettes of the looks.

The col­lec­tion’s range of col­ors ref­er­ence those used by Le Cor­bus­ier and ex­tend the min­eral pal­ette that I have es­tab­lished in previous sea­sons: io­lite vi­o­let, nep­tu­nite navy blue and onyx black, and me­te­orite or cal­cium grays.

DA: The Vic­tor shoes and the Play­time sneak­ers are both made of a sin­gle piece of leather. How did you come up with the idea for these two de­signs?

AS: Ac­tu­ally, they are in­spired by the first shoes cre­ated by Alessan­dro Ber­luti in 1895. The shoe called the Alessan­dro is one of our most em­blem­atic mod­els, and it has al­ways been made with one sin­gle piece of leather, which was quite a lit­tle revo­lu­tion at the time.

DA: When you design an out­fit, do you start from the shoes or from the clothes first? And does it start with color, cut or ma­te­rial?

AS: We travel with my team and get in­spi­ra­tions and find new ideas. From then, we de­cide what the col­ors, style or theme of the sea­son will be. We also work closely with our work­shops and ar­ti­sans to de­velop the best prod­ucts us­ing their ex­per­tise. I could also get in­spi­ra­tion from ev­ery artis­tic, cre­ative or taste­ful at­mos­phere that I have the plea­sure to see, but def­i­nitely mod­ern art and new artis­tic tech­niques are mak­ing me dream.

DA: Some clothes are de­signed as state­ments, and some for com­fort. What goals do you usu­ally go for when de­sign­ing clothes for men?

AS: My goal is sim­ply to dress the Ber­luti man I have in mind. He doesn’t have a spe­cific age, but has a very strong style. He’s sharp and ro­man­tic at the same time; he adores de­tails, loves leather and strong col­ors. He has a very per­sonal way of in­ter­pret­ing styling with­out com­ing off as clichéd while dis­play­ing his own iden­tity.


DA: Given the ex­pand­ing mar­ket of global men’s fash­ion these days, how do you see the cur­rent state of men’s fash­ion and men’s footwear?

AS: It is evolv­ing a lot and men have more and more choices. They are get­ting more and more de­mand­ing and are now look­ing for brands with a strong iden­tity and ex­treme qual­ity. DA: With re­gards to the brand’s ex­ten­sive his­tory, does it ac­tu­ally en­cour­age con­tem­po­rary in­no­va­tions or does it limit sar­to­rial and shoe­mak­ing cre­ativ­ity? AS: At Ber­luti, I have a unique pos­si­bil­ity to ex­press my­self since in our work­shop we have 50 ar­ti­sans ded­i­cated to new mod­els, pro­to­types and sam­ples. For the new col­lec­tion, I was in Fer­rara with my team de­sign­ing de­tails for the col­lec­tion, and we were do­ing it di­rectly with our ar­ti­sans with­out any in­ter­me­di­ary be­tween us. I sin­cerely en­joyed ev­ery mo­ment of this very crafted and unique process.

DA: What is the most im­por­tant thing that you have learned from work­ing at Ber­luti?

AS: At­ten­tion to de­tail and com­pli­ance with the rules of cut­ting and as­sem­bly, which ac­tu­ally are the cor­ner­stone of Ber­luti’s ex­per­tise.


Alessan­dro Sar­tori back­stage at the Ber­luti spring/sum­mer 2016 show

Ber­luti's beau­ti­ful pal­ette of the sea­son paired with three dif­fer­ent shoes: Play­time sneak­ers, Vic­tor shoes and leather slip-ons

A light­weight suit in blue shades and turquoise brief­case; mod­els don­ning suits op­po­site page A gray en­sem­ble re­flect­ing the base color of the col­lec­tion

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