For Hyun-Wook Lee, Canali’s new creative director, classic is timeless and contemporary is ageless. He joined the Italian menswear label earlier this year after working at Berluti, Ermenegildo Zegna, Gianfranco Ferre, Max Mara, and Versace. Born in Seoul, Lee studied at the Marangoni Institute in Milan, learning early on that menswear is his true calling, as he describes it.
The designer was brought in to continue Canali’s over-80-year legacy of impeccable, soft-tailored garments, and to further expand its sportswear and accessories lines. His first collection, Spring/Summer 2019, debuted this June in Milan. Through a series of rooms, he told a Made in Italy sartorial story of equilibrium, dynamism, steadiness, and inspiration. Whitewall spoke with Lee then about distilling Canali’s craftsmanship and savoir-faire.
WHITEWALL: Can you tell us about the inspiration behind your first collection for Canali?
HYUN-WOOK LEE: I called this collection “Lui,” meaning “Him” in Italian. And he has two contrasting worlds: One is classic and one is contemporary. Classic, for me, means timeless. And contemporary, for me, means ageless. These two different characters are present in four different rooms to speak about personal style. It’s all letting him decide.
So I called the first room “Equilibrium,” to speak about the matching color stories that are soft, not too contrasting. The style is more a mix of formal and casual. There you see a bomber or a big sweater, shorts and a necktie. And you can see a denim look in a shirt and shorts. The fabric is very important to the denim look, as with the wool, linen, and silk blending.
And then the second room I call “Dynamism.” It shows more contrast and color. The looks are sporty, so you see a whole range of outerwear and sportswear.
The third room is called “Steadiness,” which speaks to the DNA of Canali. There we present all sartorial fabrics. Items like the raincoat are in the same fabric as a jacket and shirt.
The fourth room I called “Inspiration.” We present a style that is very light, very summery. There, color matching is very important, with a very light gray and then a kind of pink that’s very light but sophisticated.
WW: What was the idea behind the setting, separating it into four rooms—and how did you want to style each?
HWL: The collection mood is all about two contrasting worlds. So, in terms of setting, you have this very historic building we’re in where you can see the original wall, but also new interior designs we created to set it apart. This kind of plan is very regal, a characteristic that is in the DNA of Canali. You’ll also see the motif of grapevines referencing a vineyard. I don’t know if you know, but every year there is a new wine created to go along whenever Canali has a new collection. That further represents Canali’s Made in Italy heritage.