Zegna: Like You’ve Never Seen Before

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It came as a surprise to hear Pilati insisting that his transformation of Zegna is happening in gentle increments, because on the evidence, he’s already come a long way in shifting the shape of the brand. Jackets are long, but they buttoned quite high, so the bottom flared a bit over full, slightly pegged pants. That silhouette already looked newer and more sophisticated than the body-conscious nip and tuck of the tailoring that dominated Pitti in Florence in June.

The Zegna brand felt ‘Cooler’, too, with  James Murphy’s remix of Pharoah Sanders on the soundtrack. Perhaps also the introduction of silver bottomed sneakers, huge rolled cuffs on trousers and an extreme palette of lustrous deep blues representing the North African sky that struck the suiting collection. The confident power that Pilati produced through the medium of cotton finery was outstanding.

Everyone in the fashion world heard about Zegna’s monumental set of the Ermenegildo Zegna  which was inspired by something designer, Stefano Pilati saw in Greece. He happened upon an unfinished house that, silhouetted against the sky, reminded him of a temple, and he was struck by how an empty, undefined space could be so evocative. As a oil painter, or sculptor works, Pilati used this inspiration to create the current SS2015 collections parading down the runways. This inspiration from Greece reflected not only in the set design but the garments themselves. A lot of the clothes were deconstructed, elongated, oversize, undefined, if you like, but they left a forceful impression, perhaps because they were such an effective expression of the life and times of their creator.

The languor of a half-belted coat as soft as a bathrobe, the looseness of a huge knit cardigan, the nonchalance of trousers turned up rather than hemmed—it was all very reflective of Pilati himself.

The suiting extreme, represented the desert-sky darkness —lustrous deep blues shading into blacks—which was a reminder of the importance of North Africa in Pilati’s past work, something he shared with Yves Saint Laurent. The rich, unusual color combinations—a sage green jacket over magenta trousers, and turquoise over coffee—at the finale also evoked YSL. After the show, Pilati acknowledged that his own design language has absorbed inflections from everything he’s ever done, YSL being one significant way station. But if the stripes suggested desert nomads, they worked equally well for summer on the Côte d’Azur.