Since taking the reins at Brioni as the brand's newly minted creative director in 2012, Brendan Mullane has sought to capitalize on the storied Italian design house's avant-garde heritage. "In the sixties, Brioni did a show inside the fountain of the Waldorf Astoria," he says. "They emptied it, put all the models inside, and then refilled it with water!" Regularly sifting through the company's archives even on his days off, Mullane aims to meld the brand's Milanese tailoring with contemporary DNA (that means tweaking a Brioni hallmark, the made-to-measure suit, by refining the cut of its shoulder and the height of the lapel). A 38-year-old London native who's worked for Hermès, Louis Vuitton, and, most recently, Givenchy (as head menswear designer), Mullane favors a similar balance of traditional and progressive in his personal style, pairing a gray double-breasted Brioni suit with vintage Nike Air Max sneakers. It's a look he calls "flexible and elegant," not to mention comfortable when traveling to the company's showrooms in Milan or its factories in Penne. And when he's off the clock, the Nikes pull double duty as Mullane explores Rome, his recently adopted home, by foot. Here, he takes us through his typical weekend in the Eternal City.
The Waldorf Astoria in New York City
The morning routine
"I officially wake up around 7:30, but I lie in bed for a couple of hours reading the International Herald Tribune, the Financial Times, and, at the end, the gossip section of the Daily Mail on my iPad. Then I shower. I love to spend at least 40 minutes to an hour in the shower. I have to set an alarm to remind myself to get out!"
The grand tour
"In Rome, I love to walk nearly everywhere. I'm lucky to live centrally, near Piazza Barberini. I always take a similar route—down past the parliament building, past the Pantheon, to Piazza Navona. The goal is to get to Caffè della Pace to have a green tea with aloe vera. My favorite thing is to sit and just people watch until about 2 p.m."
"In the afternoons, I try to go see an exhibition. Rome is great because you have the Renaissance thing, but also the small, new galleries. I'm obsessed with taxidermy. When I'm in Paris, I go to Deyrolle, where they have drawers and drawers of butterflies and moths."
Animal taxidermy at Deyrolle
"I always try to go back for a nap. I'm lucky to have a garden in my house where I can just sit back and relax. In the afternoons, I usually do a bit of work. It's also a really nice time to go through the loads of images I regularly archive and get inspired."
"In Rome, we eat quite late. I meet some of my team, who are also my friends, and we go for an aperitif and dinner. There's a really nice neighborhood called Trastevere with great restaurants serving traditional Italian food. One of my favorites is cacio e pepe (left), which is a pasta with a peppered cheese."
"I'm always more 'on' in the evenings than in the mornings. If I'm staying in, I sit in front of my big telly and watch my favorite movies, like The Pillow Book or The Color Purple. About once a month, my friends and I will go to an outdoor disco—there's a nice one called Circolo degli Artisti with a big garden. If I stay in, I'll go to bed around 11:30 or midnight. Otherwise, I like to stay out until three or four in the morning."