MILAN — For Brunello Cucinelli, personal relationships are the foundation of any business.
He believes that being selected as the recipient of the Neiman Marcus Award for Distinguished Service in the Field of Fashion is a consequence of the years of “human contact” with the store’s buyers.
In an interview at his Milan showroom, Cucinelli attributed the recognition to his commitment to making a yearly trip to Dallas as well as his steadfast support of Neiman Marcus Group through its financial troubles.
“Neiman Marcus helped me grow my business in the U.S and in the rest of the world, it’s a beautiful collaboration spanning more than two decades — I should be giving an award to them,” quipped Cucinelli, wearing his signature white corduroy pants, white shirt and blue blazer.
Cucinelli is being recognized by Neiman Marcus for his influence on luxury fashion and his social and environmental initiatives. The award will be given on March 4 in Paris during the city’s fashion week. Additional events are planned in Dallas in April and in Los Angeles in October.
This is the first award bestowed by Neiman Marcus since 2016, when the recipient was Carolina Herrera, preceded by Karl Lagerfeld in 2013. Before them, other awardees include Coco Chanel, Grace Kelly, Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Dior and Estée Lauder, among others.
It is inspired by the cultural heritage of Carrie Marcus Neiman and Stanley Marcus and by the Neiman Marcus Award created in 1938.
Cucinelli said he found out about the award from Neiman Marcus Group CEO Geoffroy van Raemdonck, who called him last September. “I just couldn’t believe it,” said Cucinelli, who speaks French with the executive. “I was aware of this award but I would never have imagined I could be the recipient. And I know this is the result of all that we do together, the way we work, the human relationship we have forged, and my belief in human capitalism and the moral and economic dignity of work,” said Cucinelli.
It is not all about looking back, though. “We have long-term plans together,” he mused.
Neiman Marcus started to sell Cucinelli knitwear in the fall of 2000. Two years later, Karen Katz, former president and CEO, and Jim Gold, former president and chief merchandising officer, began to ask Cucinelli to deliver total looks for women.
Menswear followed around 2004 after Burt Tansky, former Neiman Marcus Group president and CEO, saw Cucinelli at Pitti Uomo. “He admired the way we presented the menswear collection at Pitti in Florence and also my personal style. He and his team felt it would be great to bring the men’s collection with that same presentation to their stores,” said Cucinelli.
At the moment, womenswear represents 70% of the business done with Neiman Marcus and Cucinelli believes “there is so much more potential in menswear” with the store.
In 2015, Cucinelli was asked to design exclusive collections for Neiman Marcus, kicking off with a “blue range,” followed by the Art of Travel, Safari, Spa and Dream of an Italian Summer.
Last summer, Cucinelli and Neiman Marcus created the Muse of the West collaboration, which paid tribute to the American West.
Marketing initiatives including a look book and a first-time video with Carolina Cucinelli, co-creative director and co-president of Brunello Cucinelli, and her sister Camilla, co-head of the designer brand’s women’s style team. It culminated with a dinner and fashion presentation for VIP customers and influencers spending a day at the 100-acre RoadRunner Ranch in Dallas on Oct. 13, mingling with Neiman’s executives, Carolina Cucinelli and ranch hands.
The exclusive collaborations continue, as Cucinelli will launch the Neiman Marcus Icons men’s and women’s collections for next spring to celebrate the awards. Each piece will have an exclusive label and will be sold in selected stores.