The Rise of the Brioni Woman

MILAN — Equality was a word Brioni’s executive design director Norbert Stumpfl kept repeating in introducing the brand’s official foray into womenswear.

After a few seasons where a handful of looks were presented alongside the signature men’s proposition — starting from the fall 2022 capsule “La Donna” — the Kering-owned label is ready to prove that the category can “stand by its own” in the same sophisticated way Stumpfl has been reimagining the Roman heritage label since he joined the company in 2018.

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“At Brioni, men and women are equal, on the same level. Fabrics are shared, colors are shared…and I think it’s also the most modern way of thinking,” Stumpfl said in a preview interview. “I imagine [the Brioni woman is] really successful….She’s definitely a woman who works, who has her own career, who is independent, who has a lot of decisions to make. And maybe one decision she has to make less is the clothes,” he added about his aim to deliver timeless and effortless styles.

With its tailoring focus, high-end fabrics, handmade details, muted color palette and overall next-level quality, the line marks another win for quiet luxury enthusiasts. Yet Stumpfl stressed not only the upscale feel of the collection but also the practical approach he had in mind to empower women with long-lasting pieces that could fit into her busy life and further boost her confidence.

A preview of the Brioni women's collection for fall 2024.
A preview of the Brioni women’s collection for fall 2024.

In this world where there’s a lot of things happening, our clients are very busy people, they are having a lot of things on their hands, they need clothes which function for them,” the designer said.

“Yet nobody will know what she’s wearing because that’s more important as well, nowadays. Because if you wear a certain brand, you kind of pigeon hole in one direction and maybe women have done all the fashion things and now they’re more mature and they just want to emphasize their own personality,” Stumpfl said.

The idea of sharing the company’s menswear expertise to offer a female counterpart in the Brioni world sprouted from the women in the company themselves, who wished they could find garments with the same craftsmanship and attention to detail they saw in the brand’s men’s collections.

“So we were thinking if our people want something like that, this must be something that other women want, too, in the wider market,” Stumpfl said.

The collection, bowing by appointment during Milan Fashion Week, is still concise as it is developed in-house. “For the moment you will not see any sportswear or leather because [those are] made out-house,” explained Stumpfl, who plans to slowly yet steadily expand the women’s collection.

A preview of the Brioni women's collection for fall 2024.
A preview of the Brioni women’s collection for fall 2024.

Overall the lineup leans on the men’s signature whisper-soft tailoring spirit, with Stumpfl digging into the brand’s archives to borrow ideas that could inform the blazer jackets and coats in the collection.

Still, the hero pieces are the more feminine ones, bringing newness to the Brioni fashion lexicon, starting with capes to throw over simple turtlenecks and mannish pants. “It’s really nothing but it gives you a really beautiful presence,” said Stumpfl, deep diving on the quality of the fabrics used to craft these designs. For one, a camel option comes in super light brushed cashmere that looks like alpaca, while an evening version is lined in white silk.

For the first time, Stumpfl also explored more fitted silhouettes in coats and tuxedos, keeping shoulders quite strong but accentuating the waist, as an alternative to the traditionally more relaxed fits that mark his work.

Other standouts include a cashmere trenchcoat in a burnt red hue and a short white jacket in the same fabric, to be wrapped loosely around the body. “The white cashmere is even more difficult [to find] because of course the manufacturer has to stop the production, clean the whole machine and then can weave the cashmere back. So it’s double the price because it’s so difficult to achieve and nobody does it anymore,” Stumpfl said.

Ditto for a deceptively simple suit and shirt oozing ‘90s cool and rendered in a gray fabric of “unparalleled lightness,” said the designer, describing it as the most technically advanced piece that the company can do.

Brioni’s executive design director Norbert Stumpfl.
Norbert Stumpfl

“We’re really lucky, our expertise is now almost 80 years old and everything I give to our atelier comes back sometimes even better than I imagined,” he enthused. This applies to other upscale essentials, too, including shirts with a scarf attached crafted with the same technique the brand uses in its pocket squares as well as handstitched oversize coats that command closer inspection for their construction to be fully appreciated.

To signal the collection’s wearable attitude and pragmatic spirit, the looks were photographed in an urban environment rather than in the historic palazzos and decorative places often used by Brioni.

Asked what kind of reaction he hopes to elicit in the new audience he’s now addressing, Stumpfl pointed to the immediate “wow effect” sparked from touching the pieces, and their feel-good silhouettes. “Because the design is so reduced, the moment you put it on, it can fit a lot of different women straight away….They’re [wrapped in] something super soft and they can see themselves in these garments,” he envisioned.

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