Ermenegildo Zegna: Beautiful in the brand new Bocconi

No people link architecture and fashion so seamlessly as the Italians. And few Italians make the connection so effortlessly as Alessandro Sartori, whose bold new fall 2018 collection for the men’s couture line of Ermenegildo Zegna seemed designed contemporaneously with the setting of this show.
 

Ermenegildo Zegna - PixelFormula

The location: the brilliant new wing of Italy’s most famous economics school Università Luigi Bocconi. Since the first economist, a thrifty Scotsman called Adam Smith, economics has been called the dismal science. But there was nothing sad about these opulent architectural clothes, or this minimalist yet brutalist building, created by the brilliant Irish architectural firm Grafton Architects, and the design duo Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara.
 
Like the structure, which used classical Italian modernist elements of stone and reinforced concrete, even as it subverted the visual language with punchy graphic patchwork glass patterns. The name of the building is even in one-meter high script, stamped onto the underside of a reinforced concrete arch.
 
That blend of austerity and opulence was echoed on the runway, an interior auditorium done up as a winter scene, where fake snow fell on the guests and the models marched past a snow drift.
 
Out came youths in concrete gray, muted corduroy suits; or sculpted coats made of muddy hued gabardine cut with broad lapels – echoing the molded structure of the Bocconi wing. Though the standout image was a dashing black and white hounds-tooth suit  in soft alpaca mohair. Even these new jackets, in a wrap around semi double-breasted cut, played on the overlapping levels of this unique building.
 
Sartori moved back and forth between soft tailoring and urban sportswear – notably some brilliant jerkins made in contrasting sleeves and panels of lambskin, wool felt and padded leather.
 
Sartori also injected a great couture quotient with a couple of remarkable coats; from a navy blue topcoat finished with red-gold snow crystal embroidery to a stunning jacquard alpaca coat in a dressing gown cut made at Oasi Zegna, the house’s top line fabric resource, where the fabric is dyed by leaves, herbs and roots.
 
“It’s a conversation between natural and technical; built for this beautiful concrete space,” Sartori told  FashionNetwork.com.
 
His initial inspiration was Swiss-German photographer Thomas Flechtner, who spent seven years preparing a unique series of “fantastical, immaculate and surreal photos” of frozen landscapes, noted the designer. And, ever the master of subtle detailing, Sartori covered lots of ergonomic boots and backpacks with a leather embossed triple X, echoing a hand-made stitching pattern.
 
The show did suffer a tad from a strange, dirge-like soundtrack, though that could take nothing away from this thoroughly contemporary collection, a reminder of Sartori’s special talent of reinventing masculine fashion vernacular. And, continuing one of Italy’s greatest love affairs – the meeting of architecture and cool, classy clothing.
 

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