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London-born Brendan Mullane is quickly making his presence known as the newest addition to Brioni‘s sartorial family. With a wealth of experience from past stints at iconic design houses like Alexander McQueen, Hermes, and Givenchy, Mullane’s desire to preserve tradition while contemporizing classic menswear has already been seen in Brioni’s presentation at Milan Men’s Fashion Week. Whitewall sat down with the newly appointed creative director to talk about his style inspirations and plans for the future of the brand.
WHITEWALL:What drew you to men’s fashion? Did pursue a fashion degree with the intention of designing menswear?
BRENDAN MULLANE: Honestly, I think I have been interested in fashion from an early age. I was always very conscious of the clothes I wore and how they were put together. I also paid attention to the way people around me looked and how they expressed themselves through what they wore. In art school, my intention was to study graphic design or architecture. I was very drawn to the process of linking graphic design and architecture, but then I discovered that fashion could be looked at in a similar way. That’s where I really found myself drawn to the whole fashion process.
WW: You’ve worked with iconic brands like Alexander McQueen, Louis Vuitton, and Hermes, each with distinct and recognizable styles. Was it a challenge to come on board as a designer and preserve the brand culture while remaining innovative?
BM: I consider challenges a positive thing. All my past experiences have helped define my personality and shape my perception of style. Before starting my collaboration with Brioni, I was really happy with my life and was ready to move only if it felt right. When I arrived here, I felt like a kid in a candy shop because while I knew the importance of Brioni as a sartorial brand, I didn’t expect such a high and powerful level of craftsmanship. Brioni stands for the ultimate level of harmony between craftsmanship and quality and I would love to see it grow through the combination of sartorial tradition applied to new and contemporary areas of the masculine wardrobe. This is what I want to do – preserve the culture of this brand with an eye on innovation.
WW: What is your creative process? Where do you draw your inspiration from?
BM: I am inspired by anything that is an expression of creativity. Art, music, cinema, and all those beautiful things that surround me set off my creative process. I am also fascinated by architecture, and Rome, with its wonderful buildings. It is the perfect expression of majesty.
WW: What inspired your “Trans-Siberian Journey” collection shown at Milan Men’s Fashion Week?
BM: When researching the story of Brioni, I came across images of the first voyage the founders made to London in 1959. The images inspired me to imagine the contemporary Brioni man making a similar journey of discovery through an unknown wilderness. I wanted him to discover himself, and how his world of thoughts and way of expression would change throughout such a journey. I wanted a shift from his fundamental elegant sartorial world, to the idea of protection and cocooning against harsh winter elements, and the beauty found within such wilderness.
WW: Do you think Brioni’s attention to detail, hand tailoring and respect for tradition is part of what sets the brand apart?
BM: Absolutely. Those are all characteristics that distinguish a brand. Our strength is in our tailors; they are excellent craftsmen who pay special attention to every little detail. Their attention is a fundamental part of the manufacturing process. I consider tradition a strong starting point, but it’s equally important to focus on what is happening around us; to be modern and contemporary. It’s on the juxtaposition of these elements I want to concentrate now.
WW: What are your goals for Brioni? What direction do you see the company moving in?
BM: I’m working to turn Brioni into a contemporary and desirable brand while still respecting its tradition. For this reason, I would like to apply the “sartorial concept” to each product category. I want to find cohesion between Brioni’s sartorial history and all other elements of a man’s wardrobe. In doing so, we can offer a new and contemporary attitude. This “dialogue” started with my first collection; as is evident with the adjusting of the tailored suits to skim the body, as well as the outerwear giving a protective layer full of artisanal craftsmanship. We also made the accessories in graphical shapes and manufactured them using exclusive materials, right down to the finishing details. Even our cuff links embody this new direction. They are the product of a partnership with leading exponents of British avant-garde design. So we’re really concentrating on bringing together all elements of art and design.
WW: In your opinion what does it take to make a timeless piece of menswear?
BM: The exclusiveness of the quality is a very important factor in creating a timeless menswear piece. It is also true that the beauty of a timeless piece rests in its capacity to be contemporary. In light of this, a timeless piece of menswear is a modern garment imbued with tailoring tradition and artisanal expertise. It is a piece that can give you an expression of true craftsmanship incased within a desirable shape or form.
Brendan Mullane was born in Brent, London in 1975 and after securing a fashion degree at London’s Kingston University in 1997, he started his fashion career as men’s wear designer at Alexander McQueen. The following years are highlighted by important collaborations starting with Burberry Ltd in 2002, Louis Vuitton in 2003, followed by Hermes and Givenchy in 2006 and 2012 respectively. In all his posts, Mullane was in charge of developing the men’s wear lines.
In 2012, Mullane becomes the first creative director in the history of Brioni whose goal is to carry out the brand’s ambitious growth plans and to reiterate the undisputable leadership of the men’s wear house in the top-of-the-gamut men’s arena. Mullane is responsible for the creation and development of the brand’s entire portfolio of products.
In July 2012, Mullane moved to Rome where he lives and works with his team.