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Ermenegildo Zegna -- SPRING 2022 MENSWEAR

“It starts in a place where we have all been at some point, all of us, in our mind. Not literally, physically, because we all made our own subjective construction of this place and feeling. And then little by little it is replaced as we discover, and we become freer, until we become free—and then it ends with a beautiful dinner.”

So Alessandro Sartori described Ermenegildo Zegna’s spring collection film, an EDM-accessorized metaphysical pandemic narrative that took its models from The Shining-esque discombobulation of being trapped alone in a Turin maze by night to The Truman Show surreality of a walk-on-water friends reunited dinner in Milan—before a Being John Malkovich / Eternal Sunshine OTSM did-It-even-happen twist.

Of course It happened, and still is, although Sartori informally reckons that this will be EZ’s last 100% digitally presented collection. “However, I definitely want to retain some of the digital aspects we have discovered in the last year or so, and blend it with the restored physical to add to the scope of the storytelling.”

That storytelling is designed to transmit the key Zegna takeaway gleaned from 18 months of hiatus, a takeaway also articulated in this collection. The idea is to carve out a new model for apex level menswear that takes everything artisanal, expert, and technical from the Before without being beholden to its aesthetic in the Now and Ahead: to adapt the modality of the sartorial model, keep the craft and the knowledge of construction, while rejecting the preconceived rules of sartorial form in order to move on from aping late 19th century tastes in order to reflect those of the 21st century. Call it post-sartorial tailoring. As Sartori put it: “the craft has totally moved from the classic tailoring forms to these new forms. Practically, we’re building a new atelier in Novara for the construction of all these new jackets and suits and other garments that we are designing.”

The models in the movie—some of them female wearing sized-down exact versions of the menswear—were clad in pieces in different colors, materials, and design that were yet all created to be interchangeable and intermingleable (like a trad gents tailoring wardrobe) but with a more realistically refined aesthetic. Half kimono jackets with internal belts, deep pocketed workwear jackets, fitted blousons, or long and languid duster jackets came variously in wadded silk or treated calf leather, or regenerated Trivero wool or cotton, or kangaroo, linen, hemp, or more, and were constructed using sartorial techniques (canvassing at the pockets, raglan sleeves). Some of the pieces were woven in a handsome abstract wool jacquard, but most relied on the matte or shine of the fabric for surface eye-appeal. The colors ranged from black, olive, vanilla, and navy to pastel green and pink.

Below the jackets were almost invariably wide-legged pant shapes with rubber treatment to prevent fraying at the hems, which in turn were worn over molded leather elasticated slingback sneakers and molded sole chukka boots. Accessories included kangaroo work satchels in complementary colors and sunglasses with little 1970s-style protective windows hanging below each temple.

Said Sartori of this collection: “The use of materials is becoming much deeper, and continuing the recycled process is bringing us to fibers we did not anticipate before, like hemp and silk. The focus is to work with this modular approach, to think each season not of what you don’t have but what you do have, and then how you might expand it without throwing anything away but in order to increase your choices and options. At the base of it all, I think, is that comfort has become key.” Emerged from the maze with a new perspective on direction, it will be interesting to see if EZ’s freshly formulated aesthetic will flourish via broader inter-contamination across the menswear ecosystem: there’s no reason why it shouldn’t, and every reason why it might.

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