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.

Zegna: From Rio to Victorian London

Godfrey Deeny
June 24th, 2009 @ 10:17 AM - Milan

In a season, and house, of contrasts, Ermenegildo Zegna opened the Milan menswear shows with a Latin American stroll before finishing the action Tuesday, June 23, with a march through Victorian England.

The company’s signature collection, Ermenegildo Zegna, staged on Saturday, June 20, the opening of the four-day Italian season, was an extended jaunt around the better hotels of Rio de Janeiro and cocktail parties in Latin America’s most famous resort, Punta del Este.

It summed up the escapist moment that was Milan, where most collections starred high-end global nomads enjoying extended breaks between careers or ssabbaticals, quite possibly enforced, from the nine-to-five jobs.

But the collection was one of the few that addressed ecological concerns, featuring “cool effect” fabrics that reflect the sun and actually chill the hand a little if you hold them. If there was a dominant fabric, it was linen used in slim line pants, to the knee cargo shorts and sightseeing jackets. Staged on a beach boardwalk runway as the scent of Zegna’s new men’s scent wafted through the crowd, this was a gentle rove round the southern hemisphere. No wonder they called the collection “Nomadic Nature.”

Three days later, on the final catwalk of the 41-show season, the house’s directional collection Z Zegna looked to Dickensian England, with roguish scamps in a score of different tails, morning dress and frocks.

Z Zegna’s designer Alessandro Sartori titled the collection “Street Dandy” and one could sense the back streets of "Oliver Twist" with rascals in distorted top hats and multi-pocket coats, all the better to stash a little swag, like the gold chains that accessorized many looks.

Backed up by a cellist positioned on the top of the stairs of Zegna’s high-tech Milan headquarters and made in a collection of impressive fabrics – like, for instance, kangaroo skins so light they practically floated off the backstage hangers – this was a savvy statement of eccentric sophistication.

“Right now, quite frankly, fashion is really not a priority for most men,” said CEO Gildo Zegna.

This collection’s push-the-envelope novelty might be just the thing to attract wary customers back into stores.

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