It’s surely against whatever rules of retail that remain to open a store simply because the building itself is, as the shopkeeper says, “so beautiful, especially at dusk, that it breaks your heart.” But when the shopkeeper is Massimo Alba, one understands. And when the shop is a small chalet in Courmayeur, a winter holiday spot for the Milanese cognoscenti high in the Italian Alps that loom on the horizon north of the city, it all makes sense.

Ever since he started his own line in 2006, after stints at Malo and other labels, Alba has been one of the fashion world’s most treasured designers, something of a secret. An ursine, shy man, the 59-year-old possesses a lack of cynicism and an open-mindedness that inform his clothes. No wonder Daniel Craig has been seen wearing an Alba corduroy suit while filming No Time to Die, the next film in the James Bond franchise—it’s a suit that embodies Alba’s aesthetic: refined but with an artist’s ruggedness, and just the right dose of smarts.