‘We are living through a special time. We are witnessing a comeback of the great value of family, of enterprise: the family as a guardian of ideals. It is good to hear when a company reaches its sixth generation: that's what my grandfather would say, that's what my father would say. It is the value of guardianship and generation turnover.
Brunello and Federica Cucinelli with their daughters Camilla and Carolina, their sons-in-law Riccardo and Alessio, and their grandchildren Vittoria, Penelope and Brando. Courtesy of ¡HOLA!
It is the value of family itself, defending its members from the worst poverty known to man: loneliness. Subsidiarity and solidarity both coexist within the family. Each member has their own role to play within the family, but they can replace any other member if needed; everyone is close to any other member of the family during times of grief, which are part of life, too. That's why the family allows everyone to overcome difficulties smoothly and serenely.
I also think that in the valuable closeness of family anyone can receive the healthy, stable principles of education as a way of fully forming and shaping a human being.
I am particularly glad that my daughters have joined the company and happily so; I am pleased because every father is happy when their child follows in their footsteps, although this does not occur very often, as you do not inherit a business: you inherit the ownership, but not the ability to run it. I appreciate that they have chosen my company, first and foremost because we live in a village. This is a key aspect.
Carolina, Brunello and Camilla
I often think of what I appreciate about Camilla and Carolina, among other things: their love for mankind, for looking after the surroundings, for a sustainable, balanced and fair profit, for all these ideals, because I think that they have built them themselves, although I hope I have been a role model for them. They help the needy and act as guardians of creation, that's what I like about them.
And when I decide to donate something to mankind, I see my daughters sharing this goal with honesty.
Camilla and Carolina genuinely love Solomeo, the place where they were born, and I am happy to hear in their words and to read in their interviews that they share the same values as me. Not having any ideals makes life much more difficult.
I hope that our company will live for centuries ahead, but I actually know that this will not be the case because everything changes; however, this is nevertheless our long-term goal, and knowing that my daughters can be the guardian of this corporate culture is reassuring to me. I hold my daughters in high regard from two points of view: business and life. They are young, and to be objective from a business viewpoint is not easy for a father; you can never be too rational when judging your children. What I feel like saying is that I hold them in high esteem as far as their humane side is concerned, and I really like this.
If it is true that human beings are fully formed at twenty, my daughters - aged between thirty and forty - already display a very clear way of thinking, a straightforward view of the world, the future and the relationship with others. Their friends are their childhood friends, like it is the case for me: my friends are the same that I had at fifteen; these are my true friends, people you meet up with every day.
I still believe that human beings should have three great ideals: politics, family, religion or spirituality. The family is a strong value, as it conveys love for the future.
When my grandchildren spend the night at mine, I sometimes talk to them in their sleep: “Be good children, may Creation protect you, help out those in need”. And then my wife turns up and says: “Who are you talking to?”, “I am talking to them”. She thinks that I am crazy, but I am convinced that the little ones can hear my voice somehow.
I see the development of mankind in my granddaughters and grandson; and I wonder: “If God helps them, what will they be like in 2080, when they are 85 or 90?” The idea of guardianship stems from the concept of family. There were 13 of us in my family, and I never saw my parents argue, because they only quarrelled at night not to involve others. There were many of us sitting around the table for meals, so you couldn't possibly sulk for longer than a day or so.
Today things are different. We are often alone at home; if there are no children, the relationship could very easily get ruined by long silences, whereas in my home, when mum and dad were sulking after an argument, my uncle or granddad would urge them to make peace for the sake of others and they would do so.
Then my daughters got married. I am happy with my two sons-in-law, both have joined the company; I am quite strict with them, but at the same time, as Saint Benedict taught me, I am a loving father-in-law. Equal opportunities should be granted to anyone, and I would like to be seen as a just and sensible man also towards my dear ones.
"In human life seek justice, truth, temperance and courage, and you will profit from the supreme good that you have discovered." (Marcus Aurelius)
The true meaning of family will not be understood unless it is seen as a place for respect and mutual acceptance. I am convinced that no duties exist in the family except for those that come from the heart. And if it is true that the family is the core of society, that's where the healthy society is created that made classical Greece go down in history.
I would like these words to sound like a small essay on the great value of the family. The only thing my father would always say to me - he didn't talk much - was “Be a good man, be a decent person”. And he told me exactly the same thing when I was ten or fifteen. Isn't it extraordinary? The great value I have inherited from him is the importance of being a good man. “You'll be in trouble if you do not keep your word”. This is a leading teaching for me. If you cannot keep your word you have to explain why and detail the reasons. And the same applied to my brothers as well. They are capable artisans, too. We are a normal family; I wanted a normal family, albeit with strong ideals.
Brunello Cucinelli with his father Umberto, June 2018
And now, with my beloved grandchildren Vittoria, Penelope and Brando, I feel the very same feeling of eternity.
Confucius told about himself: “At forty I found my balance, at fifty I settled my issue with heaven”. This happened to me at sixty. After my first granddaughter Vittoria was born, I started to wonder once again about the same question I had asked myself for forty years: “Is our soul mortal or immortal?”. In the end, I decided that the soul is immortal, and I am not going to change my mind. When I chat with my granddaughter Vittoria, I see the future of the world in her, and I imagine the children she will have, her grandchildren, I see mankind progressing. That's why I sometimes pray for her, wishing that Creation will be kind to her, and for her to be a loyal guardian of Creation, someone who doesn't damage it.
My wife Federica has been a great help to me, especially when we were young and engaged to each other; I had many lively dreams, some of which were pretty crazy, but she would always bring me back down to earth. I keep saying to her, jokingly: “You really are a disciple of Schopenhauer”. Our personalities are different, she is slightly pessimistic. But her pessimistic and Cartesian nature, slightly more mathematical and less confident in mankind, is still very helpful to me. I am endlessly confident in mankind because I have a passion for history, therefore I think that the world, in its spiritual essence, never changes; two thousand years ago people were feeling the same joy and grief that we feel today. Today's thinkers discover with rationality the truths that the great men of the past had already discovered with their intuition. Human feelings do not change over time nor depending on the skin colour. And the family is a great symbol of this, an important central value, and in it nobody feels lonely.
I am not saying that I am afraid of loneliness, I often enjoy being by myself. Half-jokingly, I once said to my friend, the Benedictine monk Cassian, that I wanted to be a part-time monk, but unfortunately this was not viable.
Spending time alone can be valuable only for a limited time, and I believe it makes no sense outside of one's family and society. Today the family - as the foundation of society - has lost some of the central role it played in the past. But we have to rediscover its value starting from its composition. I say it once again. There were 13 of us in my family, and 14 in the family nearby, who lived in another wing of the same building. We were clearly a community. My grandfather died in our house, and my grandmother too, so they were always surrounded by their grandchildren, children, daughters-in-law. I think it is a different kind of life. Today families are usually made up of two to three people, at least here in our village: a very small family compared to the past. Many people will end up living alone, because when you reach a certain age someone will pass away and you might be left alone and miserable. Here in Solomeo I come across many single men and women at night, because their spouses have died, yet they do not feel lonely, they smile, because the hamlet dwellers keeps them company.
In the contemporary world, family still has a very important meaning; for example, my daughters Camilla and Carolina, and their friends, they all have two children on average: eight couples, each with two children. I find it touching, because they are all becoming pretty "big" families. And maybe, one day, granny and granddad will end up living with them, and the family will expand further to 4-5 members.
The hamlet is like a large family that does not forsake you. I have lived and I was brought up in such a culture, from which I have learnt the meaning of human value. It is a very special kind of life. Here there is little or no spiritual or economic poverty, because people in need are reached out to.
I like it when some investors tell me: "It is a good thing that you and your family are behind the business". I'd like the world to understand that my idea is for this company to survive for hundred, two hundred years in this hamlet, for my family to believe in this enterprise, and for us to act as guardians of creation. Everything I have done is like a dream coming true.
Finally, family is an extensive concept. I am convinced that the peoples of the world can develop mostly thanks to the feeling and awareness to be part of a single, large family. Only this way, based on the great values of justice and dignity, will the bright future awaiting us be within reach for the whole of mankind.'
Left to right, Riccardo e Camilla, Federica and Brunello, Carolina and Alessio at the prize-giving ceremony for the 2023 Neiman Marcus Award for Distinguished Service in the Field of Fashion. Photo by Gavin Bond