The entrance at the Zegna show provided a clue to the focus of the brand this season, with an installation where cashmere flakes swirled and swished around in an air chamber protected by ceiling-high glass windows. The intent was to show guests a key phase of the production of Oasi Cashmere fabrics at the company’s plant in Trivero.
The second cue was the name of the collection: The Oasi of Cashmere.
To be sure, 70 percent of the collection was made using the precious fabric and 20 percent included cashmere mixed with other fabrics.
“Innovation passes through the fibers and how they are woven and treated,” said artistic director Alessandro Sartori during a preview of the collection, underscoring the importance of materials and textures in developing his vision. “Style and technicality go hand-in-hand,” he contended.
In fact, there’s always something to be said about the impact and excitement of a fashion show, but in the case of Zegna, the opportunity to touch the fabrics and listen to Sartori’s description of the treatments and research behind the garments is an experience in itself.
Zegna’s techniques are so special that it seems it would be quite a feat to reproduce the looks without the company’s “hybrid technologies,” as Sartori called them.
Nothing is as it appears in the hands of Sartori and the skilled Zegna artisans. The brand’s signature Oasi Cashmere was treated to look like wool bouclé, jerseys were felt-like or shown with brushed and needle-punched finishes.
Cashmere was scraped by hand and treated to look like fleece, while another technique made it look like Casentino wool.
All this aside, the collection was a standout as Sartori evolved his soft tailoring, insisting on the absence of construction, which allowed him to play with his signature layering and tone-on-tone hues. He gradually shifted the attention on the color palette from the first group of gray suits — introducing a jacket with cropped sleeves — passing through earthy tones and a series of canary and mustard yellow looks — all opaque, not a shine in sight.
While there were sack-inspired jackets, the silhouette was long and vertical seen, for example, in the beautiful over-the-knee 3D jacquard coats with geometric motifs. The latter were also brushed onto puffed-up outerwear. Coats and blazers without collars were worn over full pants. A down jacket in baby calf was treated to look like it had been folded and sprayed where the folds appeared.
The knits were beautiful, coming in honeycomb patterns or exquisite intarsia.
Several models wore light turtlenecks under their jackets, a trend Sartori is obviously pushing and that was embraced first by chairman and chief executive officer Gildo Zegna, who greeted guests at the show.
The collection included Zegna’s trademarked UsetheExisting fabrics crafted from alpaca, cotton-blend corduroy and wool twill.
Sartori also sent a plethora of accessories down the runway — sprinkled with black pebbles — with a series of covetable bags and the new Vetta Triple Stich boot.
The show was an occasion to tease the partnership with Los Angeles-based brand The Elder Statesman, unveiling for example a tweed cashmere coat in a beautiful bacca red. The collection will be fully disclosed at the end of February during Paris Fashion Week.
The show was one of the highlights of a strong Milan Men’s Fashion Week — that is, until the end, when the main exit was closed, leading to total confusion as to how guests could get out.