Words by: Kerry Searle
The scent of lemon blossom wafts through the fresh ocean air of Capri. Nestled in the Bay of Naples, the island’s fabled allure has seduced visitors for centuries with promises of refined elegance, unsurpassed beauty and unique charm. This is the inspiration for the luxurious lifestyle brand 100% Capri.
One of the world’s most exclusive boutiques, 100% Capri offers an opulent clothing and homeware range that evokes the essence of la dolce vita. A true visionary, young entrepreneur Antonino Aiello has exported this dreamy island’s lifestyle to the world. In Africa, the brand is available exclusively at Delaire Graff Estate.
Born in Sorrento, Italy, Aiello encountered textiles and tailoring for the first time through the Neapolitan style embraced by his family’s business. At the age of 23, he moved to the alluring Italian island and founded his own highly successful fashion and household linen brand.
Linen is a naturally lavish fabric, being suitable for almost any occasion and having adorned high society throughout the ages. It is the oldest known textile fibre, with the earliest traces of its use dating back to 8,000 BC. Made from flax, linen was hailed as ‘woven moonlight’ by the Ancient Egyptians due to its delicate beauty. It is the strongest vegetable-based thread and, despite its soft textural feel, has at least twice the strength of cotton.
Aiello realised there was great potential in applying his experience to linen. The fabric offers many desirable qualities, from lightweight comfort and wonderful breathability in hot, humid climates, to strength and the ability to remain cool due to its thermo-regulating properties. With universal appeal, linen is also praised for being non-allergenic and anti-bacterial, making it especially kind to sensitive skin while being ecologically friendly.
Inspired by the fabric’s versatility, Aiello creates fashion designs that are able to transform from stylishly relaxed for the day, to casually elegant for evening. He also includes linen within his household range that was launched in 2006. The values of typical Italian craftsmanship define the collections. Many items are hand-stitched in Sorrento, and the hallmarks are crisp, comfortable, beautifully styled attire with clean lines and exquisite attention to detail.
The captivating fashion range features the brand’s signature colours of deep navy, white and taupe that are inspired by the mysterious grottos, sandy beaches and dramatic stone cliffs of Capri. Each summer, Aiello incorporates a unique hue, from coral to bright red, highlighting a different aspect of the wondrous isle.
“Capri is a synonym of elegance,” says Aiello. “Just look at the impressive characters who have visited, like the writer Curzio Malaparte, the filmmaker Vittorio de Sica, then Aristotle Onassis and Jacqueline Kennedy – who also popularised the world-famous Capri pants. 100% Capri is inspired by this world and lifestyle: by the white lime of the walls, by the glare of the rocks and the blue of the sea around this beautiful island.”
EACH PIECE FROM ANTONINO AIELLO’S COLLECTION IS IMBUED WITH THE HEDONISTIC AND CAREFREE SPIRIT OF THE SUN-DRENCHED ISLAND, WITH DREAMS OF SUMMER DAYS SPENT OVERLOOKING IRIDESCENT WATERS
With this jet-set lifestyle in mind, one can explore the glamorous and fashionable locations of these exclusive shops around the world. Airy and refined, each polished store captures the spirit of the island with curated apparel.
“Capri is very sophisticated in terms of décor,” says Aiello, “with soft textures, a fresh climate, blue skies and an abundance of natural sunlight. The pureness of the island shows a simple approach to style that we revisit in our home collection.” Selected accessories from the homeware range, such as delicate, hand-blown Murano glass, luxurious linen napkins and woven baskets instantly invokes the stunning scenery of the island.
Capri was a favourite and frequent retreat of the Roman Emperor, Tiberius. Aiello suggests taking a lesson from the island’s several centuries of architecture and art when incorporating Capri style into our personal space: “There is a rich history to the island and remnants still remain, now infused with a modern flair.”
In the 20th century, the Cerio family, whom Aiello calls the “Cosmopolitan Royal Family of Capri”, is credited with launching the contemporary Capri style, adding English influences and even some American touches. 100% Capri never veers far from its origins. According to Aiello, “Capri style means clean lines and understated elegance – unique pieces that have something special about them.”
Each piece from Aiello’s collection is imbued with the hedonistic and carefree spirit of the sun-drenched island, with dreams of summer days spent overlooking iridescent waters sipping on limoncello. If linen is known as the Prince of Fibres, then Aiello is surely the King of Linen, and 100% Capri his crowning achievement.