MILAN, JANUARY 19, 2016
by ALEXANDER FURY
If Stefano Pilati’s Ermenegildo Zegna Couture collection wholeheartedly embraced that suffix, with all its implied unattainable preciousness, brother line Z Zegna was focused on the urban and the accessible for Fall. Possibly to its detriment: Was it really necessary to watch the clothes in a faux-graffitied back alley scene as a dancer body popped? That was the label’s notion of a presentation, again focused on forcing the differentiation between the two lines (Couture shown in a salon, Z Zegna on the street), rather than a clarity of vision. The models, clad in Z Zegna’s functional mix of sportswear and tailoring, stood around watching the dancer’s gyrations, seemingly as bemused and uneasy as most of the audience. Why the big distraction, they may well have said: What about us?
Ostensibly, we were there to look at the models, or rather their clothes, which for Fall meant hardy, sturdy outerwear in no-nonsense techno fabrics tricked out with geeky, techy detailing (rubberized thermo-welded seams, anyone?) inspired by high-altitude exploration. Even Milan’s temperate climate has begun to chill, so timing was opportune for Z Zegna to unveil down-stuffed coats, knuckle-deep knits, and high-wrapped balaclavas. Metallic survival blankets became hooded cagoules in holiday tinsel shades of bronze and ruby, best contrasted against traditional tailoring, like a single-breasted, narrow-to-the-knee coat in a lumberjack plaid.
Overall, this felt like an exercise not in want, but in need—especially when contrasted with the glorious, indulgent luxury of Pilati’s homme couture. “Authentic outdoor sportswear,” a key descriptive phrase of this Z Zegna collection, doesn’t exactly instill the same excitement, nor desire. But when it comes to tech fabrics and hunkering down to stay warm on slopes or on the street in the promised subzero temperatures of the next few months, that pragmatism suddenly sounds all sorts of seductive.