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Brioni Names Nina-Maria Nitsche as Creative Director

Brioni Names Nina-Maria Nitsche as Creative Director

LONDON — Brioni, the Italian men’s wear brand beloved by President Trump, has announced a new creative director, Nina-Maria Nitsche, after eight tumultuous months without a designer at the helm.

As industry power players gathered in Florence for the Pitti Uomo men’s wear trade fair, a statement from the Roman tailoring label on Thursday confirmed the hiring of Ms. Nitsche, effective immediately. She will be the brand’s first female creative director, offering the latest narrative twist in the story of the Kering-owned brand, traditionally known for its C-suite client base and sky-high price tags (suits begin at $4,900 off the rack).

The new Brioni chief executive, Fabrizio Malverdi, who arrived in April to replace the outgoing Gianluca Flore, said that he was delighted to welcome Ms. Nitsche to the house.

 

“Ever since meeting her in 1996, I have been impressed by her creative approach,” Mr. Malverdi said. “Her point of view will allow the brand’s core values to prosper and yet inject a contemporary dialogue that will enable Brioni to evolve into the future.”

François-Henri Pinault, the chief executive of the Kering group, which acquired Brioni in 2012, noted that Ms. Nitsche “had a very accurate understanding of the Brioni man.”

Certainly she seems a direct contrast to her immediate predecessor, Justin O’Shea, a tattooed fashion e-commerce buyer with a huge Instagram following and no design experience who was appointed in March 2016 as creative director. That choice, coming when many luxury brands had been struggling in an ever-more-competitive trading environment, was met with raised eyebrows across the sector.

Just six months later Mr. O’Shea was out; the rock ’n’ roll-infused champagne silk shirts and crocodile skin jackets of his debut collection apparently holding little sway with the superrich and conservative crowd responsible for much of Brioni’s sales.

In some ways, however, Brioni’s latest choice of creative visionary is equally unorthodox. Ms. Nitsche was a longtime collaborator of the Belgian designer Martin Margiela, working with him for 23 years at his house until his resignation in 2009, whereupon she became the brand’s creative director for a period. Last September, she was appointed collection director at the avant-garde label-of-the-moment Vetements, where she headed the design team under Demna Gvasalia. Both are labels considered cutting-edge and progressive in their design aesthetic and both consider themselves “collectives”; Brioni, by contrast, is a brand of the boardroom establishment, not of the underground cultures of the street.

But much like Mr. Margiela — and unlike Mr. O’Shea — Ms. Nitsche is also a media-shy character; so much so that she declined to have any portraits of her circulated upon news of her appointment at Brioni. A designer keen to stay in the background could appeal to the brand’s executive board, which hopes to reposition Brioni-the-brand — and its heritage — back in the spotlight.

Indeed, it was no coincidence that the original Brioni logo, in swirly red Italianate lettering, had been reinstated atop the statement circulated to the news media on Thursday, replacing a new Gothic logo created by Mr. O’Shea (alongside a marketing campaign featuring the rock band Metallica.) Sometimes the most radical move a brand can make involves a return to its roots.





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