The show space was striking: a snowy runway set by Swiss artist Thomas Flechtner in a Brutalist university faculty building in Milan’s Université Bocconi designed by Grafton Architects.
But the collection’s strength was in the detail and the process, with Alessandro Sartori plucking from the “natural reserves” of Oasi Zegna, the family’s natural park in northern Italy, to expand the definition of luxury.
“One of [Flechtner’s] works is exactly about a modern vision of snow landscapes….This idea of presenting a juxtaposition of craft and technical, handmade and sharp in a Brutalist architecture to me is the same type of philosophy,” said the designer during a preview of the collection.
A new fabric — Oasi Cashmere — came dipped in natural dyes made from flowers, herbs, wood, leaves and roots, developed by Lanificio Zegna over 12 years and using an entirely chemical-free process involving a multilayer deep dyeing process. A small revolution, producing even fluorescent and black tones. (It ain’t called couture for nothing.)
Experimental fabrics — courtesy of Bonotto SpA, the high-end textile manufacturer that Ermenegildo Zegna Group acquired last year — included a matte cotton and wool-blend corduroy used for jackets, and a new woven leather fabric best showcased on a tennis-bag-style, single-strap backpack.
The innovation — spanning cerebral tailoring concepts, upscale spins on utilitarian and modern takes on organic — never got in the way of the wearability of the collection, which was plumped with great knits and outerwear options, from sharply tailored topcoats with inventive belt systems to a chunky shearling anorak.
Interspersing the mini felted cashmere mountaineering capes were jacquard coats and jackets in a geometric motif based on bird footprints in snow, one featuring a deep violet shade obtained from crocuses.
The motif resurfaced as embroidery on a black technical ski suit with wool padding with a neo-explorer mood. Boxy outerwear contrasted with the lean tailoring with a natural shoulder, mixing sharp and soft, precision and ease. Details included tie scarves, adjustable geometric necklines on knits and slit pockets cut into the fabric of coats.
There was a slightly athletic, at times military, vibe to the silhouettes, especially one pairing a cropped black shaved shearling blouson with narrow, lean cuffed pants tucked into sturdy winter boot-sneaker hybrids.
He also showcased a one-and-a-half-breasted construction on a single-button jacket designed to keep a sharp line when open, but have the aspect of a fitted double-breasted jacket when closed.
As Sartori looks to conquer a new future for men’s wear by revisiting traditional heritage with modernity and new technology, the collection as ever was layered in ideas, new techniques and concepts, but the result this season visually felt cleaner and simpler, to his favor.