Agnona, turning 60 this year, brought in Stefano Pilati as creative director to do more than tweak its heritage.
The first rule he broke was to show a seasonless collection that’s already available for sale, and one that spans buy-now-wear-now cotton tops and dresses (it’s 75 degrees and sunny in Milan) and some cashmere coats to tuck away for when a cold front arrives — and your paycheck: One will set you back 4,000 euros, or $5,300 at current exchange.
He plans to number the collections, starting with Zero, which was showcased in a new store concept on Via Sant’Andrea. (Roughly 400 department and specialty stores doors are to start receiving shipments in about a month, plus 14 directly owned Agnona stores.)
The Italian designer, returning to women’s wear after exiting Yves Saint Laurent last year and joining Ermenegildo Zegna Group, Agnona’s parent, also took a freewheeling approach to ultraprecious fabrics, scissoring the finest cottons into a chunky fringe and cutting raw silks and double-face cashmeres into asymmetric forms — and unexpected garments, like a camel swimsuit.
Unexpected, too, were the white mannequins with lamb limbs installed in the raw space with the builder’s notes still scribbled on the walls.
Pilati wasn’t present, it was explained, to allow the clothes to speak for themselves. He collaborated with Cologne, Germany-based design studio Meiré und Meiré for his “work-in-progress” presentation, lorded over by a portrait of a lamb — head cocked back and looking rather glam — by Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin that will double as Agnona’s ad campaign, also starring model Drake Burnette.
As for the clothes, Pilati’s flare for masculine tailoring came through in double-breasted jackets that sloped gently forward, and trousers with a boyish, borderline awkward cut. Skirts, robelike coats and shift dresses often came with slanted, jagged or bi-level hems.
Gentle colors like café au lait, straw and forest green — in addition to black and white — kept things in the realm of classics, as did prints: a check variation called “palaka” and several florals.
Edgier designs — including a stiff crocodile jacket somehow printed with those Hawaiian checks, and knit dresses in a spongy fabric that seemed as synthetic as the color — often carried a tag announcing “Prototype.” (These are available to consumers on a made-to-order basis, with a three-week turnaround.)
Pilati has already added a range of accessories and shoes, a first for Agnona, suggesting he plans to take the brand from zero to 60 in short order.