The fashion world descended on Milan for the opening day of its fall/winter 2014 menswear shows on Saturday only to be greeted at the Ermenegildo Zegna show by the pulsating image of what looked to be a star that had gone supernova.
It’s true that Italian craftsmanship is still the center of the universe when it comes to menswear, and the signature Zegna line has been something of a North Star within the industry, continually guiding Italian menswear back to its heritage of classical tailoring and high quality fabrics. But in just two seasons, the arrival of Stefano Pilati as head of design at the house has propelled this brand into a new sartorial galaxy, albeit one that is born from the same fundamental matter.
Pilati’s galactic play was pressed upon the audience via a film that towered across the catwalk’s backdrop. It mixed images of the universe with those of three urban luxury cities: Milan, New York and Shanghai. And when the film narrowed in on Milan it went as far as incorporating live footage of the audience as it watched the runway show unfold. Thus making the onlookers an even more active player in the creation of the designer’s new vision for the house.
And what is that vision?
One where the worlds of sportswear and formal dress collide, head on, to create something modern and new. A space where elegance does not need to be forsaken in the pursuit of comfort or restraint seen relegating originality to the farthest corners of the sartorial stratosphere.
In Pilati’s universe corrugated cropped bomber jackets and quilted ponchos or checked wide lapel overcoats and outsized parkas, all play important roles. Expertly cut suits in shades of midnight blue, charcoal gray or pitch black -occasionally cut in a mélange of checked fabric- found a cosmic balance in the nonchalance of long flowing scarf collar jackets or sweaters and cross fronted vests. Even beanie hats and bumpy toed boots found a way to work. Particularly when paired with paints crafted so that, even with a causal fold or two in the fabric, they didn't lose their sense of structure and jackets curved tastefully along the waistline.
It looks as if the stars have perfectly aligned for Pilati. His partnership with Ermenegildo Zegna is producing covetable menswear that is out of this world.