MILAN — Tapping Stefano Pilati last year has given Gildo Zegna an additional spring in his step.
Speaking ahead of the Ermenegildo Zegna show last week, the company’s chief executive officer was upbeat and brimming with energy. “I’m proud and satisfied, happy with a partnership that helps us raise the bar” at a time when business is generally challenging, said Zegna. “It is at such a moment that one must be daring, take risks, do different things, press the accelerator, not the brake. We have not put a stop to our investments approved in November. The challenge is how to manage the complexities effectively, provided one has the resources and the brand,” said Zegna, forecasting a 2014 “better than 2103, but still not easy.” Asked about the second half of this year, the executive said he expects low-single-digit growth, lamenting currency headwinds, for example.
Couture is priced 50 percent above the flagship line, which includes the Sartorial (tailor made) and upper-casual collections. With Couture, Zegna said he is eyeing the “superaffluent” consumer in new markets, explaining that the line will be available in no more than 50 stores globally, including the Milan Via Montenapoleone boutique, which will be expanded with an additional dedicated floor to be unveiled in the first part of 2014.
“We continue to add markets that are always more challenging, demanding and even more exclusive, notwithstanding the crisis,” said Zegna, pointing to social and economic troubles in Brazil and Turkey, in addition to a slowdown in China and India, which “never really took off.”
The executive was pleased with the performance of the U.S. market and said that Couture will also be available in a new 7,560-square-foot Peter Marino-designed boutique in Los Angeles that will open at the end of July, as well as in the Las Vegas and New York units.
In addition to Russia and the Gulf area, Zegna is looking at Africa, which is still “small, but growing,” and where the company plans to open six stores in the next three years, in Nigeria, Angola, South Africa and, possibly, Mozambique.
Zegna underscored how the Couture project allows Italian industry and craftsmanship to pair with “a big designer, whose genius creates a bomb [of creativity] that will allow the group to consolidate its leadership in men’s wear,” citing products all made by hand in Italy, the finest fabrics and attention to details — such as hand-stitched buttonholes or fabric inserts in shirts to avoid the risk of rips — combined with “more modern style and research.” He also called Pilati a “master with colors,” noting that he employed 33 different hues for the collection.
For his part, Pilati described the collection as “a project of evolution, not revolution. This is a company, not a maison, with an approach to design that is different, but stimulating. The lucidity is in maintaining a balance between creativity and what you have to do. I am quite satisfied. I had fun and learned a lot.”
London’s newly opened @designmuseum will look back on the life and work of Azzedine Alaïa in a show that the designer helped to curate before he died of heart failure last month. The retrospective, which Alaïa had worked on with Mark Wilson, chief curator of the @groningermuseum, will look at the impact of his work worldwide. The show, “Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier,” will run from May 10 to October 7. Read more about the exhibit on WWD.com #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @zefashioninsider)
@Pharrell and his wife Helen Lasichanh were among the stars that came out to celebrate @rimowa’s first pop-up concept shop. The space, which is located on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, draws inspiration from airport luggage carousels and lounge areas – and features the company’s luggage and accessories. If the pop-up is successful it could pave the way for addition temporary shops throughout the world. #wwdfashion (📷: Owen Kolasinski/BFA)
@carineroitfeld celebrated @crfashionbook’s first calendar last night with a dinner party at Spring Place in Manhattan. Photographed by @stevenkleinstudio, the calendar takes on a fitness theme and features @joansmalls, @gigihadid, @danielle_herrington_ – pictured here – and more. “[Carine Roitfeld] wanted me to feel sexy and she wanted me to be myself and feel it out on my own and do what I felt was right,” said Herrington, aka Miss October. #wwdeye
@saintrecords and @virgilabloh last night at @americanexpress’ “A Night With Success Makers” event. “I always bring it back to community because without that I wouldn’t have the courage,” said Knowles when asked how she has gotten where she is now. Read more highlights from their conversation on WWD.com. #wwdeye (📷: @lizdoupnik)
This Just In: Industry sources have told WWD that Anastasia Soare is rumored to be considering selling her beauty business, @anastasiabeverlyhills. According to those sources, Soare has tapped investment bank Imperial Capital to explore sale options for her eponymous beauty brand –– and with at least $340 million in net sales, this would be a big deal. Put in context of other recent transactions for makeup companies, Soare’s price tag could be in the billions if she were to sell the whole thing. #wwdnews #wwdbeauty (📷: @clint_spaulding)
@assouline’s latest book, “The Spirit of Bentley: Be Extraordinary” captures the adventurous attitudes and opulent lifestyles of @bentleymotors’ most creative owners and enthusiasts throughout the U.K. The 292-page hardcover has a section dedicated to showing its team of skilled artisans and photos of its most colorful owners, from George Bamford to designer @alicetemperley, pictured here by Aline Coquelle. #wwdeye
@google released its report on the most popular search terms this year. For fashion brands, the list was led by @gucci, the luxury brand that stunned the market last October when it pledged to stop using fur. Runner ups were @supremenewyork and @fashionnova, along with more established brands like @louisvuitton, @chanelofficial and @ysl. #wwdfashion (📷: @aitorrosasphoto)
In yet another fashion show shuffle, @elleryland is moving its show in sync with the Paris couture calendar — though the brand is still keeping one foot on the city’s ready-to-wear schedule. Their runway show in January will coincide with the launch of a new strategy: designing two main collections each year instead of four, which will then be released in four drops. “As we all know, the system needs to change. We need to show sooner to give time back to artisans and designers to do what they do best — create,” said founder Kym Ellery. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @kukukuba)
@maxmara’s classic 101801 coat was the cornerstone of its pre-fall 2018 collection. The design team expanded the traditional double-breasted, kimono-sleeved style into a trapeze coat, lean belted styles and a peacoat and presented them in monochromatic looks – like the camel one pictured here. #wwdfashion #prefall18 (📷: George Chinsee)