By  on January 11, 2012

MILAN — Paul Surridge is about to take center stage.

After working in the shadow of designers such as Christopher Bailey at Burberry and Raf Simons at Jil Sander, Surridge, a smiling, enthusiastic British gentleman born and raised in Hertfordshire, was tapped to succeed Alessandro Sartori at the design helm of Ermenegildo Zegna’s Z Zegna line, which will make its runway debut here on Jan. 16.

“It’s very different to be the number two, or the number one,” Surridge said. “It’s extremely beautiful, but really stressful. You are in the firelight as a creative director.”

Aiming to “increase the Z Zegna business and create a collection that people want to wear, not that just people talk about,” as the designer affirmed, for the fall season Surridge presents a lineup “full of integrity,” grounded on the company’s established tailoring tradition, which is revisited through new proportions and materials.

“I’m not someone who likes to cookie-cut a man,” he said. “I wanted the collection to really offer a young man a full-time wardrobe from morning to the evening, with everything that encompasses his lifestyle.”

Men’s staples, such as trenches, peacoats and suits, which show elongated silhouettes inspired by the “Jazz Suites” worn by the sophisticated gentlemen of the Twenties, are realized in both traditional fabrics and in their high-tech version.

Case in point is the slim tailored suit with deconstructed shoulders, which comes in classic mohair wool or in a techno mohair nylon blend.

Surridge also designed a wide range of outerwear pieces, such as a techno gabardine raincoat with a detachable collar in sateen nylon and a herringbone style in techno nylon blend featuring graphic inserts in tridimensional mesh and calf leather.

The color palette of “dark and rich colors” includes navy blue, burgundy, green and brown, with flashes of electric blue and cardinal red.

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