Today, it’s considered fashion-forward to pair a suit with a T-shirt and trainers, or to wear tailored trousers with a casual sweater. However, designer Nino Cerruti was bridging the gap between suiting and sportswear as early as the 1950s, with sophisticated yet relaxed tailoring that’s still relevant to the way many men dress today. Combining his know-how of textiles and cut, he was one of the first to breach the lines between formal and informal dress codes – revolutionary at the time. Indeed, Giorgio Armani worked under him on his first menswear line, which Cerruti launched in the 1950s before founding luxury menswear label Cerruti 1881 in Paris in 1967. The house celebrates its 50th anniversary next year, but, as its name suggests, its origins date back long before 1967. In 1881, Cerruti’s grandfather started the Lanificio Fratelli Cerruti wool mill in Biella, a region north of Milan that’s long been renowned for producing first-rate fabrics for fine-wool and cashmere suits. In 1951, Nino Cerruti, at just 20 years old, became head of the family business, so when he created his own clothing line, innovative textiles were the obvious starting point. A focus on refined fabrics remains a hallmark of Cerruti, and some of Cerruti 1881’s fabric development and production is still undertaken at the original mill. While Nino Cerruti no longer owns the house, new creative director Jason Basmajian values its founder’s opinion and the two still have occasional dialogues.
Continuing the legacy of a menswear icon is no mean feat, but no one is more qualified to lead the company into its next phase than Boston-born Basmajian, who sees his appointment as a culmination of his experience to date. Basmajian began his career in luxury menswear, and worked at Donna Karan and Calvin Klein in NewYork, then ST Dupont in Paris, the first heritage brand he was tasked with moving forwards. From there, he moved to renowned Italian tailor Brioni, before being called upon to modernise 245-year-old Savile Row stalwart Gieves & Hawkes. Staying true to Cerruti 1881’s brand DNA, which is firmly rooted in the Cerruti family textile mill, Basmajian is taking the company back to its origins in order to move it forward. His first collection for autumn/winter 16 focuses on luxurious textures and layering, fusing comfort and elegance in line with the brand’s signature ‘casual chic’ aesthetic. ‘There’s an ease and nonchalance to it, and it’s very masculine,’ he says. Cerruti 1881 is known for its sartorial spirit, so softly structured tailoring forms a key part of the collection, from two-button straight-cut or double-breasted suits to three-piece suits with matching waistcoats. Equally notable are outerwear pieces including a sports parka with leather trim, beautifully relaxed bomber jackets and fully reversible leather jackets and blousons.
‘You can see how codes of dress, even in very corporate jobs, have changed, and people want to add more flair to their working wardrobes,’ Basmajian explains. ‘Nowadays, wearing well-cut trousers with a beautiful coat says as much about style and elegance as wearing a suit.’ Basmajian’s staple is the overcoat – a garment he’s created in various silhouettes and colours. There’s very little black in the collection, but the rich palette includes dark hues – plum, burgundy and tobacco brown – as well as duck-egg blue, providing subtle yet smart alternatives. Within Cerruti 1881, professionals can find all the components they need for a capsule business wardrobe, and a weekend wardrobe, too. The collections are made to be mixed and matched, and a jeans range has recently been added to the main line, because, Basmajian insists, dressing down doesn’t mean dressing badly. Currently, the brand ships to the UK from the website, and its main flagship store is in Paris. However, rumour has it that a Cerruti menswear concession will be opening in London next year. So while Basmajian is taking inspiration from garments and fabrics in the Cerruti archive, he’s most committed to continuing Nino Cerruti’s intelligent, individual approach to style – a philosophy that’s stood the test of time. cerruti.com