When the luxury menswear brand Brioni sharpened its teeth for an expansion two years ago, it appointed Brendan Mullane as creative director.
Mullane had spent the preceding decade designing menswear at a series of luxury heavyweights, working at Louis Vuitton, Hermes and on to Givenchy, where youth culture drives men's as much as women's designs.
Drawing from the codes of each house, Mullane outlined a vision for a revitalized Brioni, where craftsmanship and tailoring reign supreme, but classic styling advances into contemporary territory.
Those aren't bad marching orders for any man who wants to exude cool elegance as 2014 begins. Here, Mullane suggests six essentials for a winter wardrobe.
1: Fine-knit cashmere sweater. Or "jumper," as the London-born Mullane knows it. "When you go to 42-gauge knit, it's the nearest thing to a T-shirt you can have, but it's cashmere. Even 18-gauge is superfine and really luxurious."
2: Pocket square. For a less formal look he likes a pocket square coordinated to the tie, but not matching, or worn without a tie, remaining in place even if denim replaces the suit trousers. "Then the pocket square becomes a completely different object. It pops out and gives a personal twist to everything."
3: Brogues. "It's a shoe that for me is a must. Brogues accentuate everything else." Brands work hard on creating their brogues, and a man should shop for his with the same attention to detail. "It's a way of personalizing your look."
4: Double-breasted suit. "Every man should have one," he said. "There's something so elegant about being that closed in, how it keeps the posture." Mullane wears mainly double-breasted suits despite being "not so tall," he said, about 5 foot 9 inches. "You have to work to get that suit right," he said. Choose a narrow trouser to elongate the body. "Maybe you take the sleeves 3 mm shorter so you see more of the cuff. You have to know your body. It makes you understand the art of dressing."
5: Sartorial coat. "I used to say everybody should have a camel coat. It's really difficult to wear," because it shows dirt. He's no longer wedded to camel, but a sartorial coat remains a must.
6: Leather bag. "Men used to have one as a purely functional item," he said. "Now it really can make or break a silhouette." Brioni has expanded its range to bags for travel and daily business, introducing a crocodile Voyager bag, a burgundy calfskin duffle and a calf-leather jet bag.