Reflections On a City

Valentin Hennequin and Georgia Thompson’s sleek shoot on the streets of Paris

Full look Lemaire, additional under shirt Dries Van Noten, briefcase by Berluti

L: Shirt, jumper, jacket and bag Dior Men, trousers Zegna, shoes Lemaire. R: Full look Bottega Veneta

Shirt Ernest W.Baker, suit Brioni, coat and tie Dunhill, shoes Hermès

L: Full look Louis Vuitton, tie Dunhill. R: Shirt Ernest W.Baker, suit Brioni, tie Dunhill, shoes Hermès

Full look Miu Miu, roll neck stylists own, trousers Zegna

Full look and scarf Hermès, shoes Prada

Full look Prada

Full suit Celine, coat GmbH

Full look Givenchy

Photography Valentin Hennequin
Styling assistant Ophelie Cozette

The Persistence of Memory















Photography Joe Lai 

Set design Jade Boyeldieu d’Auvigny 

Styling Lune Kuipers

This article is taken from Port issue 30. To continue reading, buy the issue or subscribe here

New Heights

Ungho: Coat FENDI. Luard: Shirt PAUL SMITH, Scarf DUNHILL, Trousers PAUL SMITH

Coat & knitted body PRADA, Hat BERLUTI


Luard: Coat DIOR. Ungho: Full look ALEXANDER MCQUEEN




Luard: Shirt and trousers NANUSHKA, Roll-neck BERLUTI, Shoes PRADA. Ungho: Full look CANALI


Full look HERMÈS



Photography Conor Clinch

Styling Mitchell Belk

Models Luard and Ungho at Elite London

Grooming Asahi Sano at Caren using Bumble and Bumble

Casting Ikki Casting

Production Kat Perry

This article is taken from Port issue 29. To continue reading, buy the issue or subscribe here

A Moveable Feast

A dialogue between past and present is crucial for Berluti and Globe-Trotter, two luxury brands who have collaborated on an impressive new travel capsule

“To be honest, I’m not so crazy about collaborations; I feel there is a terrible overload of them going on!” says Kris Van Assche, Berluti’s creative director, as refreshingly outspoken as ever. “I think they can feel a little forced or unnatural sometimes.” Yet there are exceptions to every rule, and, in this instance, he has found a worthy partner.

Berluti have teamed up with Globe-Trotter on a special travel capsule collection of bags that spans suitcases, messenger bags, shoe trunks and briefcases. Collaborations, as Van Assche points out, have indeed been overdone in recent years, especially with the streetwear boom era, and can often feel like a gimmicky decision by brands who want a headline. But, when they involve a meeting of complementary minds, they can create powerful and exciting new products. 

The similarities between this luxury duo, an Italian-French leather-goods house and a British luggage maker, are obvious. To begin with they were founded just two years apart: Berluti in 1895 by Alessandro Berluti, a young Italian shoemaker who came to Paris to try his luck; Globe-Trotter in 1897 by David Nelken, a British entrepreneur who experimented with making suitcases from innovative materials such as vulcanised fibreboard, a light yet surprisingly hardy synthetic fibre.  

Over the proceeding decades, each has remained steadfastly committed to high quality, and attracted a glittering clientele in the process. Berluti is famed for its lustrous leather lace-ups and boots, which are made in the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy and have graced the feet of the likes of Jean Cocteau and Andy Warhol. Meanwhile, Globe-Trotter’s cases, which have accompanied explorers including Captain Robert Falcon Scott and Sir Edmund Hillary, are made by hand in Hertfordshire in the south of England, where a team of artisans use old-school manufacturing methods and machinery dating back to the Victorian era. “Both brands have incredible heritage and savoir faire, which has become very rare elsewhere,” says Van Assche. “With this partnership we were able to dive into hundreds of years of craftsmanship.”   

This collaboration fits neatly into Van Assche’s vision for Berluti. A waifish Belgian who studied at Antwerp’s prestigious Royal Academy in the late 1990s, the now 44-year-old designer is a long-time member of the LVMH family, having worked with Hedi Slimane at Yves Saint Laurent before serving as creative director of Dior Homme from 2007–2018. He has become known for his pin-sharp tailoring, slick minimal aesthetic and ability to woo style-conscious urbanites.

His intention since taking the Berluti reins two years ago though has been to celebrate the brand’s heritage and craftsmanship, working alongside its CEO (and LVMH scion) Antoine Arnault. He made this clear from the outset: One of his first moves was to overhaul the brand’s logo, presenting the words ‘1895 Berluti Paris’ in a font mimicking the way Alessandro Berluti had once carved his name into a shoe tree.

Yet there have been complications. This is a formative time for Berluti: Although it has been a world-leading shoemaker for more than a century, it only launched ready-to-wear in 2012, so is still a relatively young entrant to the men’s apparel market. Berluti is simultaneously old and new. (It is also the sole menswear-only brand in the LVMH stable.)   

Plus, its archives are lacking; at times it has felt like the brand’s history has been pushed to one side. In previous interviews Van Assche has admitted to feeling “paralysed” by the lack of archive material. “Initially the brand was all about custom-made special orders, so often no archive was kept,” he explains. “There is the iconic pair of Alessandro shoes from 1895, but there is no archive of clothes as such.” This lack of historical pieces to draw upon, he says, initially inspired feelings of “freedom and fear: the freedom to be able to create a silhouette from scratch, but also the fear of not having a clear reference to start from,” he says. “In the end, I realised the real heritage at Berluti is one of know-how and traditional craft.” So that’s precisely where he’s focused his gaze.


The Globe-Trotter collaboration is emblematic of Van Assche’s vision for the future of Berluti. For starters it’s among the first products to feature his Signature monogram, which combines the new ‘1895 Berluti Paris’ logo with the flowing lines of Scritto (a calligraphic motif that was conceived by former creative director Olga Berluti, who based the cursive characters on handwriting from an 18th-century letter she purchased at auction). An ornate insignia rendered in dove grey and set against a charcoal background, the monogram reflects Van Assche’s desire to fuse past and present. “It’s not a graphic that will change every season; it is going to be installed as a new part of the Berluti offering, which is why it looks so traditional,” he says. It manages to achieve a tricky thing: “It’s a logo designed from scratch but feels like it’s always been there.”

The monogram features in Berluti’s mainline AW20 collection, yet it’s truly the star of the Globe-Trotter collaboration. It is omnipresent. It has been stamped onto a series of eight hard-backed suitcases: some have wheels and all are sturdy and featherlight. They are works of great artisanship, created via an intensive process of compressing 14 layers of Japanese paper to form a shell. These are then furnished with hand-patinated Venezia leather handles, corners and straps, in a rich chestnut hue, and jazzed up with shiny engraved nickel hardware.

Crafted in Hertfordshire, the trunks are a handsome assemblage of greys and chocolate browns that recall old-fashioned adventures (you can almost feel the dust and smell the tobacco from 19th-century Orient Express carriages), while also feeling somehow modern. Their sharp lines and sombre palette would look perfectly at home in both an 18th-century Parisian parlour and a contemporary Manhattan hotel.

The monogram has also been stamped onto a shoe trunk (which can hold six pairs of footwear) and a shoe-care kit, both nods to the brand’s footwear-making heritage. It’s there on a watch box. And it’s emblazoned across everyday accessories, including a mini-messenger bag and a briefcase. There’s a carrier for every occasion.

The travel industry is obviously in a state of flux and many of us may not be embarking on long-distance flights for the time being. That doesn’t make luggage pointless. One of these bags could prove a handy companion for a quick trip across town, another for a weekend away or perhaps a meandering overnight train journey. And, given that these suitcases are rolling into the future while keeping one eye on the past, they’re not going to go out of style anytime soon – if ever. As Van Assche puts it, “Craftsmanship is essential for a luxury house, but at Berluti the focus is on reinterpreting it in a highly modern way. I like to illustrate my work here as a constant dialogue between past and present.”

Photography Luca Strano

This article is taken from issue 27. To buy the issue or subscribe, click here

Past & Present

Creative director Kris Van Assche presents SIGNATURE, Berluti’s first pattern canvas

The House of Berluti, and the family that established it, is one marked by innovation, entrepreneurship and artistry. Alessandro, Torello, Talbinio and Olga Berluti each contributed something vital to the craft of shoemaking, revitalising their offering during the Roaring Twenties, post WWII, heady late 60s, 80s, and beyond. As a young Talbinio once noted, “The spirit of the House lies in the craftsman’s respect and the artist’s disobedience.” Now, creative director Kris Van Assche looks back at over a century of work to create Berluti’s very first pattern canvas printed with a unique seal.  

The former artistic director of Dior Homme joined the Maison in 2018, and with his debut collection back in 2019 translated the brand’s iconic artisanal leather and marble workshop tables into prints for silk shirts, tailored jacquards and a patinaed leather suit. This same homage to heritage, one that fluidly mixes past and present, is apparent in SIGNATURE. Inspired by extensive archives, Van Assche has created a motif combining Berluti’s new logo – taken from the shoe tree of the very first pair of shoes made by Alessandro Berluti – and the elegant strokes of the iconic Scritto motif, a nod to the calligraphy of Olga Berluti.

At the close of the 19th Century, a teenage Alessandro sought his fortunes in Paris, quickly earning a reputation as a talented bootmaker skilled with wooden lasts. The brand’s spiritual and physical home is paid tribute to in the line’s palate of black, slate and lead grey – reminiscent of a muted Parisian landscape – while the pattern canvas is applied to the brand’s infamous hand-patinated Venezia leather (a supple material which owes its existence to Olga, who first developed it using natural and mineral tanning), finished with trademark leather details and bootmaker studs.  

“My idea was to design a printed canvas that would look as if it had always existed in the archives”, explains Van Assche. “The more I think of the future, the more I want to anchor it in a historical context. SIGNATURE Canvas creates a bridge between the past and the present.”

In addition to belts, trainers and wallets, the line offers a variety of briefcases, cross-body bags, clutches, totes, backpacks and a sailor bag. And, although international travel currently remains a dream for many, Berluti has collaborated with British luxury travel brand Globe-Trotter to create a complete travel capsule – eight hard cases in different formats – using the SIGNATURE Canvas. Formed of hand patinated leather handles, corners, and leather straps, the suitcases’ hardy but lightweight base is achieved by compressing 14 layers of Japanese paper to create an organically textured shell. Here’s hoping that lockdown is lifted sooner, rather than later.

The SIGNATURE Canvas collection is available in Berluti stores and online

Restoring Chandigarh

Berluti and Laffanour Galerie Downtown partner to restore original furniture pieces by designer Pierre Jeanneret

In 1951, the Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier penned a letter to his wife Yvonne, writing: “We are on the site of our city, beneath a marvellous sky in the midst of a timeless landscape…All is calm, slow, harmonious, lovely… Chandigarh (this is the name of our new capital)”. A year prior, the modernist planner had been invited by the Indian prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, to create a utopian city from scratch, symbolising the country’s post-war independence. Chandigarh, a compound of the Hindu goddess Chandi and Garh (meaning fortress), was also supervised by Le Corbusier’s cousin Pierre Jeanneret, who looked after both the Capitol’s major administrative buildings and designed all the furniture within the Complex together with Charles-Édouard and Charlotte Perriand.

The latter is the focus of a recent collaboration between Berluti and Laffanour Galerie Downtown, who have lovingly restored 17 original pieces, upholstered in Berluti’s iconic Venezia leather. The hallmark X, U and V-like forms of cinema chairs, daybeds, folding screens and desks crafted in solid teak have been given new life and by incredibly high conservation standards, with no filling holes or removal marks in the wood. Tops, panels, cushions and upholstery are finished with specially tanned leather, their unique colour palette developed afresh by Berluti’s creative director Kris Van Assche, who was directly inspired by the light, landscape and flora of the North Indian region and two colour collections originally created by Le Corbusier. “I have always loved and collected Pierre Jeanneret’s furniture,” notes Van Assche, “I knew that the Berluti patina know-how would give back all their splendour to those iconic pieces, aged through time. It is an opportunity for this Berluti craft to be rediscovered in a new context.”

Port spoke to Francois Laffanour – the founder of Galerie Downtown – about the partnership, the ambition of Chandigarh and shared design aesthetics.

Photography Franck Perrin

How did the project come about – what first drew you to Pierre Jeanneret’s work?

The project sprung out of a friendship between myself and Kris Van Asche. We both share a communal interest and passion for Pierre Jeanneret, his values and his work.

Why does the Chandigarh Capitol Complex ambition continue to inspire architects and designers?

There is an ode to modernity and industry in the architecture of this time, which contrasts sharply with the primary function inside of the Chandigarh capitol complex (administrative reflecting law and order). 

What was the working process behind the restoration?

We worked hard to restore the Jeanneret furniture like we are used to doing. Berluti then reupholstered the furniture in a very different way with their leather, inspired by bright colours which remind us of some of the buildings in Chandigarh.

What design or aesthetic values do you and Kris share?

A taste for determination and rigour. Minimalism – when less is really more.

What one item would you save from a burning building? 

Pierre Jeanneret’s base building desk.

The Berluti x Laffanour Galerie Downtown series will be presented during DesignMiami until December 8th 2019

Fade to Black

George Upton discovers the inspiration behind Berluti’s AW19 collection for our latest issue 

In Berluti’s manufacturing facility in Ferrara sits a wide, square marble table, stained with intersecting rings of colour – semicircles of blue and orange and yellow, arcs of pink and green, dark circular smudges, sunk into the stone. It’s a hard, cold surface, smooth and unyielding, a visual record of the work of the brand’s master colourists, who are responsible for applying Berluti’s distinctive patina to the shoes by hand. It is also, for Kris Van Assche – the creative director of the Italian-founded, Parisian maison – a source of inspiration: His collection for Berluti this autumn centres on a print made from an image of the table, repeated across shirts, suits and coats, the smudged colours providing the palette for the rest of the collection.

Developed in the ’80s by Olga Berluti, who inherited the brand from her grandfather and uncle, the patina is a closely guarded secret involving a combination of solvents, essential oils, pigments and dyes that are applied to the leather. Designed to age with time, to evolve as the shoe is worn, the process creates unique shades and nuances in the leather, as well as, under Olga’s direction, facilitating the introduction of a new, vibrant spectrum of colours to sit alongside the traditional black and brown.

One of the master colourists at the Berluti factory took Port through the process:

First and foremost, it’s vital to use good-quality products. The material we use, Venezia leather, was developed by Olga Berluti. It is full grain and uncoated, which makes it a perfect base for the patina. We start by lightening the shoe, stripping it back, before we massage it with essential oils that are imbued with natural pigments and different types of wax.

Then, using brushes, sponges and cloth rags, we start colouring. The patina effect we often apply, which we call ‘cloudy’, requires two types of colour, one that is transparent and another that we call ‘smoky’. The transition between the two has to be as smooth as possible; to find the perfect balance can take well over an hour.

Lighter colours are more difficult to master, as even the slightest flaw shows up, and multicoloured patinas can be particularly demanding as many different colours are needed to achieve the best transition. The biggest challenge, however, comes with dramatic colour changes, such as brown to red, on a pair that has already been worn a lot. On Kris Van Assche’s SS19 collection, he introduced ‘reversed patina’: a base of very dark black on to which brighter colours are added (blue or red for this range). The colour placement has to be carefully considered, depending on the shape of the shoe, so the transition to black remains beautiful.

Photography Piergiorgio Sorgetti

This article is taken from issue 24. To buy the issue or subscribe, click here