As Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team prepares to challenge for the 36th America’s Cup, a reunion with the past beckons. Once again, Auckland is the venue, and once again, Team New Zealand is the final obstacle on the road to sailing’s greatest prize.
In today’s hype-dominated world, anyone calling Luna Rossa’s 2000 America’s Cup debut ‘transformative’ might be accused of overstatement. But to all those who witnessed the events of that epic southern summer, the Italian team’s impact was impossible to ignore. Whether you were on location in Auckland, or part of Italy’s legendary all-night television vigils – it was clear that something had happened; that sailing had somehow gone up a level.
By the time of the America’s Cup’s arrival in Auckland, pro teams were in the midst of a culture-shift. Traditional owner-led campaigns were being taken over by sports managers with sponsors to please – consigning the competition’s once-incognito fleets to history. Yet against the logo-studded backdrop of America’s Cup 2000, the livery of Luna Rossa’s yacht, ITA-45, stood out: not because of what it said, but because of what it didn’t.
The stripped-back styling of the ‘Silver Bullet’ and her crew somehow connected sailing’s past with its future. Less was more.
As a sporting campaign, the new Italian challenge was an outstanding success. They defied all predictions to qualify for the climactic regatta, notching up a record 38 victories en route to the final.
Their challenger series showdown with One America still ranks as one of the all-time great episodes in sailing’s longest saga.
But Luna Rossa’s glow radiated far beyond the racecourse: seldom had sailing been so present in the pop zeitgeist. The team’s utilitarian, techno-centric style formula struck a chord in fashion, and helped usher in a sea change in the relationship between luxury and leisure. The ‘luxe sport’ movement that sprang from the team’s debut continues to reverberate throughout style and culture today.
It all began in the spring of 1997, when the blueprints for a new Italian racing team were sketched out at a dinner party. Patrizio Bertelli and Miuccia Prada conjured the name (Italian for ‘red moon’) as a riposte to ‘Black Magic’ – New Zealand’s champion yacht. More than two decades later, Luna Rossa’s origins feel oddly relevant once again.
For 2021, the stakes remain exactly as they were two decades ago, but the America’s Cup has undergone a revolution in the meantime. For the current challenge, Luna Rossa return to Auckland as Challengers of Record – and co-architects of a visionary class of flying AC75 yachts. This time they are bolstered by partnerships with Prada and Pirelli: both icons of Italian industry – recognised bywords for innovation, style and sporting passion.
To mark Luna Rossa’s long-awaited return to America’s Cup competition, the team is releasing an official collection for only the second time in its history. The first time was in 2007, when visitors queued in the Valencian sun to own a piece from sailing’s style ambassadors.
For the team’s current offering, several designs from that landmark collection have been affectionately revived with modern performance fabrics and updated styling. The flagship Afterguard Jacket is a signature piece – with a cropped cut and twin-stripe detailing to complement its 3-layer construction. The team’s trademark red-line graphic is also back, lending minimalist class to designs like the Flight-tech T-Shirt and women’s Icon T-shirt.
Elsewhere, an emphasis on modern sports fabrics prevails. Fast-wicking piquet knits make up garments like the Foil Polo, featuring supple yarns for enhanced mobility and Polygiene-treated for resilience. Comfort and freedom of movement also dictate the design of mid-layer pieces like the New Gen Hoodie, made from cotton-rich fleece. Along with most of the collection’s leading styles, a ‘mini-me’ version exists for kids aged 6-12.
Whether your affinity with Luna Rossa reaches back twenty years or one race, the Mascot T-Shirt is destined to become a grail item for team aficionados. The famous piranha sketched by founding crewmember, Romolo Ranieri, has featured on Luna Rossa competition yachts since the beginning. Fighting spirit and caricature style offer light relief in a line-up otherwise dominated by disciplined understatement.
Without doubt, high performance and unrelenting focus define Luna Rossa’s newest campaign: states of mind reflected in every thread of the 2021 team collection. Shop the range exclusively at the 36th America’s Cup Official Store.
All images © Carlo Borlenghi | Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli