Browse all

The hyper-fluid tailoring of Zegna's SS23 collection

When technique and art meet like man and nature

The hyper-fluid tailoring of Zegna's SS23 collection  When technique and art meet like man and nature

 Yesterday, in Trivero's Oasi Zegna, and to be more specific on the rooftops of the historic Lanificio Zegna in the green mountains of Piedmont, Zegna's SS23 show was held - the "out of doors" closing of Milan Fashion Week and a decisive turning point for the language that Alessandro Sartori, Gildo Zegna and their team have created for the 100-year-old brand. «All of our values start and end there», said Gildo Zegna during Sunday's press preview, expressing his intention to create a show that would concretize the brand's philosophy in every aspect. Indeed, the collection was intended to have, on the level of design as much as on the level of technique as on the level of pure event, the tone of a decisive change as well as a compromise that brings together both the more traditional soul of the brand and the more modern and innovative one. Innovations have come on the level of sustainable design, material tracking, and the genderlessness of some garments designed to fit a woman's body by size alone. These, of course, are benchmarks that most fashion brands set for themselves - the uniqueness of Zegna lies in its ability to turn these parameters not into boundaries to adapt to but into starting points for making its designs more efficient and sophisticated. 

The elements of the collection are deceptively simple. During his meeting with the press, Sartori spoke about «garments that make lightness and have in lightness their essence» and «the future of tailoring moving within this luxury leisurewear». Declined in Oasis colors, from earth tones, vicunha, through acid or very light yellows, contrasted with charcoal, coffee color and black, the clothes mix acid and organic tones, interpreting this new hyper-light wardrobe in which the silhouette and materials are sublimated to the extreme and the seamlessness between proper tailoring and casual goes retrograde, leaving room for four macro-categories: tops, bottoms, underpinnings to be layered underneath, and shoes.

Vividly hemmed jackets, cotton terry suits and outerwear, collarless silk shirts, stone-washed linen as if it were denim, fully traceable Oasis Cashmere mixed with  linen - different materials and techniques are all fused creating a kind of aesthetic that is both recognizable and futuristic. The highlight of the collection, however, is the evolution of the classic Triple Stitch sneaker redesigned by Mr. Bailey: a sole composed of a single band of leather wrapped three times around the silhouette; a cracked leather upper that looks like real drought-split earth; three decorative laces that mimic those of the original sneaker; and, on the inside, an internal mesh that makes the shoe function like a slip-on. A collaborative sneaker that is perhaps already among the best of the season, if not the year.

The quest for extreme lightness is then symbolized by technical silk, which, if readers will forgive my generalization, is practically a silk with the same properties as nylon: there is a double-layered jacket made entirely of silk that can be rolled up and then reopened without a single wrinkle appearing, and thus entirely packable in a backpack or suitcase; there is also a trench coat in which the silk is dyed with a tie-dye technique and appears translucent, even when inside is a mesh lining also made of silk. There are also linen trench coats that weigh like a shirt, silk and cotton blends, inverted terries, garments that reproduce graphic prints in the form of inlays in knitwear and leather. One of the most incredible materials, besides the hyper-fresh upcycled wool (the precise term would be UTE, short for Use The Existing), there is fabric made from cotton or linen mixed with recycled paper used to create a rough, almost sculptural-looking cotton gabardine. There's also cotton mixed with 10 percent nylon that receives a heat finish that turns it shiny and allows whole garments to be created from knit alone. 

Beyond the message and values of the brand in this new phase of its life (the IPO was last December and has greatly expanded the company's strength) and beyond the values communicated through this collection and previous ones, the most interesting operation here concerns the proposition Zegna makes about the nature of luxury. The technical silk jacket that does not wrinkle, say, is a luxury product not only because of the quality of construction and materials, but because of the irreplicable characteristics of the fabric itself. Sophistication, in other words, is not only about the outward aspects of a certain product but about the very material of which that product is made. It is sophistication on all levels, from the visual and tactile to the molecular, as exaggerated as that term sounds - and it is also a sophistication linked to a long heritage. If the future of luxury is unknown, yesterday Alessandro Sartori gave us a first and very important glimpse of it.