MILAN — Simon Holloway’s first collection for Agnona bows for fall on Friday. The soft-spoken, affable designer is quietly returning to the brand’s seasonal cadence which his predecessor, Stefano Pilati, had revoked.
This story first appeared in the February 26, 2016 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“These clothes are about seasons — we sell certain fabrics three months out of the year,” explained Holloway ahead of the presentation in Milan. The designer’s passion for materials is evident throughout the conversation.
Holloway exited Hogan in November after two years, while there establishing it as more than an accessories brand, meticulously searching for fabrics and adding a fashion edge to the label. Before Hogan, Holloway worked at Jimmy Choo, where he was cocreative director for three years, and brands including Narciso Rodriguez, Ralph Lauren, Michael Kors and Richard Tyler.
While Pilati favored a see-now-buy-now approach, Holloway has a different take on the Agnona customer. “We are selling very valuable things, there’s a customer that plans ahead, enjoys planning ahead and likes to have everything purchased and altered in time to be worn,” said the designer, who believes that the Agnona customer wants “true luxury at full price.”
“Agnona is a truly Italian story of creativity and style, in the true essence of these words. My perception is that of classical noble fabrics and I sensed there was a bigger story to tell,” said Holloway, expressing his surprise at finding archival books referring to orders of fabrics made over the years by brands including Christian Dior, Givenchy, Valentino, Balmain, Chanel and Halston, to name a few. “Agnona is not only about a camel coat,” he deadpanned. “It’s an unbelievable well of rich references, the ultimate Milanese brand in lockstep with the Modernist movement.”
The designer said that the brand, founded in 1953, was “born as a modern brand,” and he found it with “no baggage.” For the “intimate salon-style presentation,” Holloway said he would “reach in the ultrafeminine world, retain the purity and explore a more glamorous world. A few things were constant, a dress and a coat, always nude and beige. There was a common taste level, which still holds true — flattering dream colors, nothing austere or hard.”
Without revealing too many details of the collection, Holloway said he would elaborate a “general couture silhouette, with light clothes that float over the body,” in delicate yet rich colors — grays, neutrals, pastels.
“The brand is known for the iconography of double-faced fabrics,” said Holloway, who wants to explore a “3-D story.”
The company has acquired a brand new machine that creates 3-D jacquards. He also cited knitted jersey made in cashmere and then felted as another material.
In terms of product extension, rather than focusing on handbags, which Pilati expanded, Holloway sees a home collection more in line with Agnona. For pre-fall, the brand presented blankets and pillows, available, for example, in corners at Harrods and Barneys New York. Robes and home jackets in cashmere and textile accessories, such as scarves, wraps and shawls, are also a natural progression for the brand, observed Holloway.
Agnona, which is a women’s-only brand, has been controlled by the Ermenegildo Zegna Group since 1999. The Italian men’s wear giant is pursuing an expansion of the brand globally, leveraging the quality of its textiles and heritage.