If mighty Italian fashion has any chink in its armor, it’s the production-driven nature of the business, reflected in permanent runway venues that can lead to a gnawing sense of same-old, same-old — and an often robotic allegiance to trends.
Since arriving at Zegna in 2013, Stefano Pilati has shaken things up with varied and theatrical runway spectacles, and a couture approach. He reached a new pinnacle with his arresting fall collection, his best yet. It was rich in pattern and surface decoration from subtle to elaborate, with silhouettes that slowly dissolved from structured and boxy to languid.
To show it all off, Pilati opted for an intimate set reminiscent of a miniature Roman theater, putting the audience on furry seats and in close enough proximity to notice the pin-dot scarring on loafers, the jacquard motifs etched on suiting fabrics, and the twinkling 3-D embroideries on sweaters that must carry five-figure price tags, despite being worn offhand like a favorite workout sweat. Each exit carried a number, like high fashion shows of yore where clients could circle their orders.
How far did Pilati push his couture agenda? He had such a specific idea in mind for a cape – “too difficult to explain,” he said backstage – that he drew the pattern himself. It incorporates the lapels of an overcoat and the suggestion of a sleeve, giving the cape a unique, arching shape in profile. “I’m very proud of it because it’s very, very masculine,” he asserted.
Like most things in this self-assured collection, it whispered authority and confidence, just as the dense decorations rarely overwhelmed the tapered pants, some flashing jet beads on the outer seams, or his blanket-soft coats bearing large-scale patterns.
“I think it’s very effortless, and that’s where the chic comes from,” mused Pilati, who indeed makes couture look easy.