Alessandro Sartori

Ermenegildo Zegna Couture F/W 2017

See now, Order now for the man of today

Milan’s big debut this season was Alessandro Sartori’s first bat at Ermenegildo Zegna Couture, a sumptuous spectacle where the clothes managed to be both raw yet sophisticated; experimental yet commercial.

A patrician meeting of sport and tailoring, where elements of mountaineering met truly modern mode. The whole athleisure movement screams urban gyms; but Sartori’s Alpine vision took the concept somewhere very new and unexpected.

Ermenegildo Zegna
Alessandro Sartori presented a collection where elements of mountaineering met truly modern mode

The setting could not have been better. A remarkable permanent exhibition by Anselm Kiefer entitled The Seven Heavenly Palaces, featuring massive towers made of concrete huts, stitched together with sheets of led roofing; broken window panes and metal scaffolding. Massive crumbling oil landscape paintings covered the walls; numbered rock detritus littered the floors of the immense exhibition space, owned by the Pirelli art foundation.

“I love the exhibition and I want to bring the audience each time into a setting which creates emotion,” said Sartori.

Ermenegildo Zegna
Short double-breasted jackets met voluminous trousers in surgically tailored suits

That meeting of roughhewn materials and liner silhouette was echoed in the collection. And lots of noble materials – from knobby cashmere alpaca to geometric jacquards to a revolutionary new fabric from Bonotto – a micro matelassé with real down inside. Used in a perfectly cut suit – a meeting of short double-breasted jacket and voluminous trousers. Think David Life in concert in St Tropez.

“Before we had three brands. Now we have one brand with three lines. And did not want nostalgic references to the past, but a fresh vision, that reflects how men really dress today,” stressed Sartori. With a classic music pianist accompanying a funky industrial track, and his models marching rapidly through the gigantic art hangar, he certainly succeeded.

Ermenegildo Zegna
Sartori has a soft spot for experimentation: In his F/W 2017 collection he combined fine wool blazers with calfskin matelassé sleeves

He also harnessed the couture skills and know-how from his previous job at Berluti in Paris, with a great array of mega polished sneakers and hiking boots finished with contrasting laces and silicon dipped shiny soles. Sartori’s predecessor Stefano Pilati had built Zegna into one of menswear’s half dozen major shows with massive productions – which featured forests and gigantic custom-made seating. Wisely, Sartori kept that idea. But his collection was decidedly more approachable than before. Even if his inside-out constructions, drawstrings and fabric mixes were avant-garde the clothes were all very wearable. Another element that makes Sartori such a great designer is how most of his experimentation works; whether combining fine wool blazers with calfskin matelassé sleeves; or sending out surgically cut suits with pants puckered and nipped at the ankle. Whose relaxed approach meant there was not a single tie on the catwalk.

The show also ushered in a new concept: See Now, Order Now, since 15 of the looks were presented in a Pop-Up shop post-show. Starting Saturday morning, these can all be ordered in Zegna flagship stores and delivered within six weeks. Talk about harnessing the power of Zegna, a unique Italian brand, which boasts exceptional fabric resources and state-of-the-art manufacturing capabilities. The show marked the return to Zegna for Sartori, where he first won attention designing the house’s fashion forward Z Zegna line.

“I wanted a new era at Zegna, where our creative, advertising, fabric resources, tailoring and digital departments are all working together harmoniously – next to the studio. Before all these processes tended to start after the show was staged,” explained Sartori, who is Artistic Director of all of Ermenegildo Zegna.