MILAN — After eight years, Alessandro Sartori is leaving his post as creative director of Z Zegna and will be succeeded by Paul Surridge, currently head designer of Jil Sander Menswear, reporting to creative director Raf Simons.
Surridge, who has honed his men’s wear skills at Burberry and Calvin Klein, will take over with the fall-winter 2012 collection. Z Zegna is Ermenegildo Zegna’s more fashion-oriented brand and was launched in 2003.
According to sources, Sartori is headed to men’s luxury footwear specialist Berluti, part of the French luxury giant LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton. Antoine Arnault, son of LVMH chief executive officer Bernard Arnault, assumed the management helm of Berluti last January after three years heading up communications at Louis Vuitton. He declined all comment on Monday.
However, it is understood the young Arnault plans to build Berluti, an underdeveloped and under-the-radar jewel in the LVMH empire, into a lifestyle brand by expanding into ready-to-wear, travel bags and other categories.
A source said “it’s a colossal project, and an incredible investment for LVMH.”
According to sources, Berluti recently engaged specialists to work on categories such as knitwear and leather apparel, and the brand stewards are also said to be hunting for real estate in Paris to open a large flagship.
Founded in Paris in 1895 by a transplanted Italian and famous for its shoes in unusual colors and patinas, Berluti generates an estimated 80 percent of its revenues from footwear. Its most famous style, dubbed the Alessandro after the founding cobbler, is a court shoe fashioned from a single piece of leather without any seams.
“We are grateful to Alessandro Sartori for his outstanding creative contribution during the past years,” said Gildo Zegna, ceo of the Zegna Group, noting the designer “together with his team, did a great job in positioning [Z Zegna] perfectly.” The line, he said, “has an important role in our brand portfolio, developing a modern, fashionable lifestyle which continues to be a strategic priority for us. We are pleased to welcome Paul and wish him the best in accepting this new challenge.”
A Milan-based retailer said Z Zegna “works very well, with a tight fit that performs wonderfully in emerging markets.”
He said Sartori, in leaving Zegna, was perhaps tempted into “experimenting even more with fashion, without risking the loss of the brand’s target customer.”