The olfactory senses went into overdrive upon entering the pitch black Ermenegildo Zegna show venue. The smell of freshly turned earth filled the air. Then slowly, mountains of rich black dirt began to take form.
Weaving through their imposing presence, the show's catwalk finally appeared: a lush Jurassic rain forest rising to the rafters. As a backdrop to the raw earth runway all the greenery made a striking counterpoint, and instantly brought to mind a man vs. nature message.
However, designer Stefano Pilati's line up of eco-warriors were built more for a survival in the urban jungle rather than some far-flung fantastical forest.
Everything in this collection was designed to elegantly blend into city surroundings. Familiar and yet inventive Pilati brought something new and desirable to each ensemble. From classic, checked outerwear coated in a shimmering sliver treatment and brushed velvet corduroy suiting, to the must have knit sweaters with built in hard cap hoodies and jackets with zipper openings sliced in at an unusual few inches below the elbow (count on these last two ideas being catnip for menswear magazine stylists). With each look, this show balanced eye-catching design elements with sophisticated tailoring.
The collection, in tones of green, grey, black and navy, worked on so many levels. It showed Pilati putting Zegna's famed factories through their paces creating elegant, tapered full cut pants, buttoned or cuffed close to the ankles, check-printed rubber rain coats, jackets that morphed from a patterned wool front to a quilted nylon back and slim knitwear with a raised three-dimensional motif design.
The designer might have sent out a few of his looks with backpacks worn backwards (across the chest instead of the back), but he has clearly created a strong forward momentum for this house with this well-rounded collection.