Men’s Milan Fashion Week has officially started! And here’s lesson number one: you just can’t go wrong with Zegna. I know it myself – I’ve got a couple of my dad’s clothes coming from the brand, and really, this brand is not just timeless, but its quality is indestructible. Alessandro Sartori, Zegna’s creative director, embraces what the Italian brand stands for with every season, delivering absolutely desirable, refined and relevant investment pieces for a contemporary man. For autumn-winter 2022, Sartori said he was presenting “il nuovo abito“: the new suit. Yet this collection represented something far bolder than that. It was a tilt at meeting that migration by erasing the categorical imperatives that have long codified menswear. These old-fashioned either-ors include formal and casual, sartorial and sporting, street and fashion, executive and worker, masculine and feminine – all of them habit-forming dichotomies that signpost the traditional menswear roadmap. This shift came in sync with multiple others in Zegna’s landscape. Early last month the company dropped the Ermenegildo from its title and also quietly phased out the really excellent sub-brand Z Zegna in order to combine everything under one mainline menswear empire. The simplification is meant to add emphasis to the Zegna identity, which is now represented by a signifier-logo that sandwiches the brand name within two vicuna-toned strips of brown with a strip of black between them. The logo represents the road that winds through the 100 km2 of land – the Oasi Zegna – that the original Ermenegildo purchased, reforested, and conserved in order to increase the quality of life and wellbeing of the employees and their families at the original Zegna lanificio, which continues to operate today. Another categorical dichotomy that Sartori has worked to blur is that of physical vs digital – fashion-wise, phygital was first coined here back in 2020. Today’s presentation had been planned as what Sartori today called “metatheater – not the metaverse – a combination of cinema, fashion, and live… My goal is a digital background to a live presentation, and I am sure we will do it in June.” The latest offering was shot between the Oasi Zegna and a Milan TV studio over five days. But those clothes don’t need any additional, fancy background. A dark, gabardine jacket that featured an eye-catchingly unorthodox notch lapel construction, no bolstering material in the shoulder, and no buttons at its split cuff. This was worn atop matching pants, vaguely carrot shaped like most here, and the handsome galvanized slip-on ankle boots that were also shown on most looks treading through the snow in the Oasi. Under the jacket was an oatily-toned midlayer that featured a one-sided, curved flap that lent the look a roguish, piratic air. When the model took the jacket off, it turned out that midlayer was a soberly silhouetted technical turtleneck whose curving came from the shape of the zippers running across the body. You could see the fossilized remains of both sportswear and tailoring in the look’s elements, but when worn as an ensemble it did, indeed, look like an outfit that was uncategorizable as either. Other highlights included sharply silhouetted deformalized jackets and pants in ultra-thin padded fabrics, parkas in wool ripstop, and shirting with fabric-soft panels of leather cut into their cashmere whole. Knitwear featured tonal jacquards whose abstract shapes reflected the patches of forest and snow they were shot against. Whether in camel hair, scuba, or cashmere, the shacket-and-pant fusion ensemble – a luxury-chore-jacket-workwear outfit meets supremely-soft pajama – was well represented and made a powerful candidate for Sartori’s post-abito habit.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.