The stars of Italian luxury are an elite, their status solidified over decades, if not more than a century, of weaving, sewing and paving world-class products. Which means it’s not often that a newcomer joins their rarefied ranks. But while the name Agnona, the hottest brand among the highest echelons of Italian fashion, may not be familiar to you, its rise has been a long one. Originally a mill, the brand has specialized in the finest fabrics and knits for over half a century. Today, with a new leader and a renewed vision, Agnona claims its place as the true arbiter of cashmere refinement.
The brand was created in 1953 by Francesco Ilorini Mo, in the same northern Italian province where Loro Piana was founded. Like its neighbor, Agnona began as a textile merchant, selling decadent cashmere, vicuña and alpaca to Parisian couturiers including Christian Dior and Cristóbal Balenciaga. The founder’s fabrics gained such a reputation that with the help of another neighbour, Zegna, Agnona eventually launched his own ready-to-wear collection. In the 1990s the company was acquired by Zegna and went through several attempts at restarting, although the niche manufacturer never really found its way into Zegna’s corporate structure.
Stefano Aimone, the brand’s new CEO and creative director, explains that “Mo’s central idea was that clothes should be just a piece of fabric with sleeves”. This approach – minimalist designs rendered in the finest materials – is what set Agnona apart from other stalwarts of Italian cashmere at the time: it was modern. “He had this really comfortable figure,” Aimone says. “Leisure wear, day wear, tailored, but dressy. That’s why it’s really now: There is no longer a rigid power suit, even for businessmen. There is no more dress code.
A scion of the Zegna family, Aimone grew up immersed in the tailoring business. Most recently, he served as head of design for Z Zegna, but with his “much more laid-back” personal style, Aimone says he’s always had a soft spot for Agnona. When the pandemic hit, he decided to act and, together with his father, acquired a majority stake in the company.
“What we’re trying to do is go back to where it all started,” Aimone says. His fall collection, which reintroduced menswear after more than 20 years of inactivity, follows the founder’s fabric philosophy with soft-shouldered double-faced cashmere jackets, leather-trimmed alpaca chore coats , cotton and cashmere jeans and a range of plush sweaters. in the finest fibers. Made entirely in a natural palette of cream, camel, brown and black, the garments transcend the usual divides between downtown and downtown, on duty and off.
Asked about its competitors, Aimone replies: “I can’t say Loro Piana, because it’s too classic, too conservative. Cucinelli too, it’s very, very him. The line is too simple; Jil Sander is too fashionable. With its exceptionally well-made staples, the new Agnona manages to work with all of the above without prescribing a distinct house style. Items like flannel pants, wool and silk t-shirts and cashmere overshirts can be worn endlessly and in multiple ways.
“It’s much more contemporary,” Aimone says. “For me, the contemporary is a question of expression, of freedom; it is not about a specific design or silhouette. For a brand steeped in old-school luxury craftsmanship, Agnona’s attitude is relentlessly new.
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