If there was snow during this modern Malaysian winter, the brutalist premises of Universiti Malaya’s Dewan Tunku Canselor would be where Ermenegildo Zegna would show. While we await The Donald’s coal-stoked cronies to cause that and more mayhem, it has fallen to the brutalist premises of the Università Bocconi to be the stage for models' footprints, “writing graphic paths as they stride”.
The inspiration? SNOW, a collection of photographs of frozen landscapes created by artist Thomas Flechtner, whose vision was the creation of the show space “giving a surrounding three-dimensionality to the eternal man vs nature dialogue”. What could this mean?
"I am interested in expanding traditional techniques, creating hybrid shapes that are apt for new uses, getting contemporary function out of traditional craft,” says Ermenegildo Zegna artistic director Alessandro Sartori.
“We work around sartorial neologisms, which this season I have labelled with another neologism: Snowriting. Formal merges with informal in a sublime snowy scenario." (Ah, so.)
Hence, Sartori's wardrobe is modular, in keeping with his hybrid ways of formal-informal and function-craftedness. It combines sports and tailoring, indoors and outdoors. Necklines are “geometric” while lapels are “carved 'n curved”. Silhouettes are well-defined yet soft. It’s all intended to convey a “sense of precise ease” as conveyed by the ‘one 1/2 breasted’ construction. This is explained as “halfway between single and double-breasted” and the construction is used for both jackets and coats, the intended effect being to communicate “a nonchalant élan”.
More hybridity can be found in the duvet-wool anorak, knitwear-outerwear, and matching blousons and trousers suit especially useful for when the formal wardrobe malfunctions or is at the cleaners. The adjustable trouser hems are shown off with mountain boots.
Fabrics, in aid of comfort and practicality, are “precious and supple”: cashmere jacquard, compact mohair, brushed alpaca, wool and cotton corduroy.
Colours: Satori’s wordplay and snow-inspired graphics are no whimsy. Here it is worth mentioning the Oasi Zegna, a 100km2 nature reserve in the Biella Alps, in northern Italy. It spans Trivero, the Piedmont village where Ermenegildo Zegna founded his woollen mill in 1910, to the peaks of Bielmonte. Zegna founded Oasi in the 1930s, when he reforested the barren slopes of the vast surrounding mountains.
For the first time, the new Oasi Cashmere features even the brighter tones, made possible by a dyeing process exclusively developed by Lanificio Zegna. Colours are said to be obtained only from natural elements such as flowers, herbs, wood, leaves and roots. The palette is inspired by the Oasi Zegna, and its description is perfume-like: “a mix of neutral tones of edelweiss white, pebble grey, birch beige with notes of vicuña, bulb red, pine green and dashes of crocus purple, chanterelle yellow, azalea orange.”
Morphing patterns and hybridity: “XXX”, the symbol for the hand-craft of Ermenegildo Zegna Couture, is used as a jacquard or a logo on clothing and accessories. The Zegna exclusive woven fabric PELLE TESSUTATM appears in herringbone patterns for the first time on briefcases and bags.
Fashion notes by Vivian Yap.