MILAN — Paul Surridge is in his element. “I grew up in menswear, it’s effortless for me,” said Surridge, presenting his first Corneliani Circle capsule during Milan Men’s Fashion Week at the brand’s showroom.
Effortless was the look he was striving for with the collection, although functionality is also key in his vocabulary. “Beautiful doesn’t work if it’s pointless,” contended the British designer.
Surridge joined the storied Italian brand in May and he has been focusing on traditional menswear archetypes and sartorial separates for Corneliani. “This was a natural collaboration and I went back to discipline, clothes that are meaningful and last a lifetime, which to me is real sustainability,” said the British designer.
Surridge, who left his role as creative director of Roberto Cavalli in 2019, after a two-year stint at the brand, has been tasked with helping Corneliani’s relaunch and repositioning after a period of financial struggles. Corneliani is majority-owned by Bahrain-based fund Investcorp.
The Circle collection was introduced with the spring 2020 season, reinforcing the brand’s commitment to a more sustainable model and its increasing targeting of the new generation of environmentally conscious consumers.
A graduate of London’s Central Saint Martins, Surridge was previously creative consultant at Acne Studios in Stockholm, with responsibility for coordination of the menswear collections. Before that, he was creative director of Z Zegna from 2011 to 2014.
Earlier, Surridge was design director of men’s at Jil Sander, reporting to then-creative director Raf Simons. He honed his skills at Calvin Klein and Burberry, working with Christopher Bailey from 2003 to 2007.
“Well-being, feeling at ease” is a priority for the designer, who expressed his “real joy” at being able to work directly with the factory and the Corneliani artisans who make the clothes.
Arriving at the company, he said he felt he could work with “a white slate,” while being “sensitive to the needs of the brand and its history.”
Reflecting his experience with fabrics and textures, a blazer in wool, cotton and hemp with a micro geometric pattern was worn over wide-legged Bermuda shorts. Cavalry twill or tropical bi-stretch organic wool characterized a few jackets. An elongated windowpane check blazer was worn over a white T-shirt and white chinos. No garment was constricting or formfitting. Proportions were simplified to convey an elevated ease and attitude.
Tailoring is Corneliani’s core business, but here it was rendered softer, although with precision and detailing.
An oversized short-sleeved shirt in organic cotton with a rattan print was inspired by the artisans’ hand-weaving and added an informal touch to the collection.
“True luxury is the confidence that a man senses when feeling comfortable and at ease in his clothes,” Surridge concluded.