Trendsetter: The Fashionable Bond of B.Barnett and Brunello

Inside iconic Little Rock boutique B.Barnett lies a highly astute edit of designer clothes, shoes, accessories and handbags. The pieces are shown in tasteful compositions as expert stylists aid clients in enhancing their closets. For 50 years, the locally owned store has fashioned a faithful following of stylish women in Arkansas and beyond. That’s half a century of serving up looks, not to mention the boutique’s superb day spa services.

Since its inception, B.Barnett has been a trailblazer in the fashion marketplace. Home to luxury labels including Khaite, The Row and Brunello Cucinelli, the name B.Barnett evokes images of quality and timelessness, much like the brands it carries. Over the years the boutique has introduced these labels and more to its customers, making it possible to shop upscale designs on a smaller, local scale. 

High-end brand Brunello Cucinelli is quintessential to the boutique as the “sportivo chic” collections fit perfectly with the store’s classic, yet elegant ambiance. When B.Barnett first revealed the line, it hadn’t fully reached Hollywood A-listers and Silicon Valley executives, though now you can see Cucinelli on the likes of Ana de Armas, Angelina Jolie and Oprah Winfrey.

“We launched the collection in 2008 and have watched it expand year after year,” B.Barnett owner Marisa Ensminger says. “The quality, color and play on textures are what drew me in. We are thankful our loyal customers continue to see the value of this timeless collection of fashion.”

Credit: Josie Burnett

The label proudly bears the “Made in Italy” stamp, where creative director and chief executive Brunello Cucinelli was born and raised. In 1978, he began his journey in fashion design by creating and selling brightly-colored cashmere sweaters for women. During a time when knitwear was traditionally neutral, Cucinelli unknowingly set out to become a sartorial innovator. He sold 400 sweaters in his first three months and is now on track to reach $1 billion in revenue in 2023.

Known as the “king of cashmere,” his mission is simply to create beauty, preserve culture and give value to tradition. According to Cucinelli, “A cashmere garment lasts forever, you never throw it away, you must pass it on to your children; its ability to last is the symbol of its value.” 

Cucinelli’s values — which are deeply rooted in his Italian heritage and culture — are also reflected in the medieval castle he restored to be his headquarters and home. Located in Solomeo in the Umbria region of Italy, the town now stands largely restored by Cucinelli. The expansive project included a church, theater, garden, tailoring school and other sites to revive the hamlet’s beauty. 

On the outskirts of town past the castle stand several old mills, which he turned into the company’s modern manufacturing facilities. Here, Cucinelli pieces are handmade with the highest quality of fibers and care. The rare wool that makes up his recognizable cashmere pieces is combed from Mongolian goats and spun into spools of luxurious thread.

The eponymous brand still produces its signature knitwear for the modern woman, but now also has offerings for men, children and the home. 

“I’ve always been fascinated by the great trailblazers of mankind,” Cucinelli said in a 2018 interview with Salesforce, “and in some small way, I wanted to be a trailblazer for the human soul.” 

Credit: Josie Burnett

His worldview and approach to business landed him in The Business of Fashion 500 Executives Hall of Fame and as GQ’s designer of the year in 2021.

Much like B.Barnett, Cucinelli continues to be a pioneer in the contemporary luxury marketplace. Their attention to detail is what makes their products so special, and focusing on quality has proved successful for both. Quite simply, the combo is a match made in fashion heaven.

Fortunately for those who don’t reside in Italy or just want to support a local boutique, the latest Cucinelli collections can be found at B.Barnett.


Editor’s note: B.Barnett was in the path of the EF3 tornado on March 31, and the shop is currently closed for repairs. Learn more and stay updated on the store’s website, Facebook and Instagram.

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