From the Pantheon he took geometric shapes from the marble floor for inspiration for the pattern of a sweater. From the Vatican Museum he took the greys, dusty pinks and steel blues that caught his eye on an early morning visit, creating a summertime colour palette he called "veiled Rome, " a contrast from the terra cottas and orange usually associated with the Eternal City.
Mullane, a 37-year-old Englishman who was previously head of menswear at Givenchy, was brought in last year to relaunch the traditional Roman brand that has long specialized in handmade suits.
"For me, it had become a bit quiet as a brand," Mullane said at a presentation Tuesday, the last day of Milan Fashion Week. "I want people to look at Brioni in a different way, to take it in a creative and contemporary direction using the Brioni language.
And that language is sartorial, based on the three-piece suit. Trousers are pleated and slightly high-waisted for a lean silhouette. And the shorts are based on pants that have been cut off, so the well-tailored Brioni man can feel comfortable in his skin even on vacation. No baggy Bermudas here. But there is a silk pajama.
Mullane develops the brand's contemporary look through fabrics, giving the collection what he called "the DNA imprint."
He starts, for example, with a classic silk tie, and working with an artisan textile maker develops that into a silk blouson jacket with a matte finish, then a step further into a woven panel on a leather travel bag, and yet another step into the belt. Each piece has the same intricate geometric pattern, with layers of colour.
"You look at it, and you don't know why, but it really becomes three-dimensional," Mullane said.