The Cucinelli the world knows best is a man named Brunello, who founded his eponymous luxury brand, headquartered in the medieval castle of Solomeo, back in 1978. But over the course of the past few years, his youngest daughter, Carolina, has emerged on the scene, graduating from a job on the design team into an increasingly powerful role at the company.
Now, as co-president and co–creative director, Carolina manages all activities of the brand, with a special focus on the children’s and home collections. Her public-facing activities went digital during the pandemic, but it comes as little surprise that this well-trained aesthete, who earned a master’s degree in art and costume design and got her start at the company on the design team, has perfected her Zoom look. Looking poised and professional—and also enviably radiant—Cucinelli holds court in her office in Solomeo, where she is framed by an artful arrangement of books and pieces from the brand’s home collection.
Pre-pandemic, Cucinelli was spending much of her time on the road, pinging between Europe, China, and the United States, visiting with retail partners and customers alike. But like the rest of us, she was ultimately grounded, in more ways than one. “I always had the impression that I was doing a lot of things, and I didn’t have a lot of time, but when you look at it, I had 24 hours a day, like everyone else,” she says. “When you think about it, maybe ‘I don’t have time’ is a bit of an alibi.”
Poised and professional—and also enviably radiant—Cucinelli holds court in her office in Solomeo.
Her first order of business was ensuring that the company did not lay off or furlough any of their 2,000 workers in Solomeo, which Carolina watched her father painstakingly restore during her childhood. And then there was the matter of extending that job security to the 5,000-person network of manufacturers, scattered largely throughout Umbria. “It’s a question of dignity—human dignity, economic dignity,” she says.
Next, Carolina focused on an increasingly important area of the business—fostering collaborations with artists and digital innovators who can interpret the Brunello Cucinelli brand in novel ways. “I am looking for someone with a spark,” she says. She found it in British Vogue editor Sarah Harris, whom she brought in to kick off the “Be Your Change” project, where influencers create documentary content that explores the notion of personal evolution.
It’s a subject that strikes close to home for Cucinelli, who welcomed her son, Brando, nearly one year ago, as life gave way to lockdown. “My feeling was that the whole world was stopping along with me,” she recalls. “It was very special.” Predictably, her ideas on the children’s-wear collection have evolved alongside her journey as a parent. “I love the idea that children should be wearing something that they can play in and wear to school,” she says. “I love for them to be well dressed, but it should be very easy, very natural.”
She’s also looking at Brunello Cucinelli’s adult offerings a bit differently. “I still have a sweater that my father used to wear in the 80s. Now, whatever my husband and I buy, we may leave it to our son,” she says. “I like this idea more and more—buy less, but buy something with a story to tell, that will be passed on to future generations.”
Ashley Baker is the Style Editor for Air Mail