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"Rewriting the codes": Interview with Alessandro Sartori and Jerry Lorenzo

The two designers talk about what it means to reinterpret ermenegildo Zegna's tailoring

Rewriting the codes: Interview with Alessandro Sartori and Jerry Lorenzo The two designers talk about what it means to reinterpret ermenegildo Zegna's tailoring
Laurent Bentil

Last night, on the penultimate day of Paris Fashion Week Women's FW20, Alessandro Sartori and Jerry Lorenzo officially presented the collaborative collection "Fear of God exclusively for Ermenegildo Zegna". Both brands are, to paraphrase Jerry Lorenzo's very apt words, "humbly sophisticated" and have brought together their respective characteristics for a collection aimed at representing the trait d'union between traditional tailoring and luxury streetwear.

According to the words of the two designers, bringing together two different brands such as Ermenegildo Zegna and Fear of God was actually simple: their areas of pertinence are undoubtedly different but what unites them is the same approach to design and to the combination of shapes and materials. IAlessandro Sartori's tailoring is "classic" and Jerry Lorenzo's creations are too, although their works have different results, given the marked difference in cultural backgrounds: Ermenegildo Zegna moves within the sartorial tradition, Fear of God in that of Americana, the aesthetic based on the cultural heritage of the United States. On the occasion of the Parisian debut of the new collection, we asked a few questions to the two designers.

How did you approach the re-imagining of an heritage brand’s style like Ermenegildo Zegna?

Alessandro Sartori: When we started the conversation we were already thinking of a new dimension. We wanted to convey a message. It’s still tradition, but we’re speaking to a new, broader, fresher audience. When you see the silhouette, the lapeless jackets and all the suits, with no pockets, different fit, different shoulder... it’s not  like this because we wanted to make it the garment of the season but because we wanted to build a generation of tailoring pieces that were really well-blended with different kinds of sportswear. Like re-writing the codes. 

What’s your thoughts about an Italian heritage brand like Ermenegildo Zegna and how did you approach this kind of design?

Jerry Lorenzo:  Ermenegildo Zegna represents a level of excellence and humility that is very attractive to me. Fear of God is a brand that attempts to be humbly sophisticated. We’re not a brand that has a lot of logos and we like to make a statement through color palette and shape and proportions and styling. Although we play with denims and jerseys, it’s a very similar approach to that of Zegna, which is playing with more exotic and high-level materials and fabrics. The DNA is very similar although what appears to be the core aesthetic is different, a lot of the core values are the same. And knowing that we have core values and heart, also seeing the things that Alessandro was doing in recent seasons, in terms of styling and proportions – the same things that I’ve been playing with – I knew that if we sat together in a room, we’d have a lot more in common.

And, as a streetwear designer, what is the essence of contemporary elegance for you and how did you work this concept out?

Jerry Lorenzo: It’s easier for me to make sense of our brands coming together because I don’t see my brand as streetwear. I choose not to live in the box that we’ve been positioned in. And when Alessandro understood my perspective from a designer’s point of view I knew that the conversation on streetwear wasn’t on the table and we were speaking the same language. 

And do you think that streetwear is going to die, like Virgil Abloh said?

Jerry Lorenzo: I don’t think he’s saying that streetwear is going to die. I think he’s saying that the term streetwear is going to die and the world is going to honor creatives from everywhere in the same way, no matteri f you’re doing it in Los Angeles or at the highest level at a couture house. All creatives are going to be called just menswear designers. 

So in this new phase what is goign to be the legacy of the streetwear renaissance we saw in the last few years?

Alessandro Sartori: I think that what streetwear was good at is that it conveyed a message of freedom. Mostly it was changing the styling rules. And before we were sticking to certain rules, while during it and after it we were more open to different designs, more personal and in line with your moment. So that’ something that stays.