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THE prodigal son is back, and he's better than ever. After a five-year stint at Berluti, Alessandro Sartori returns to the company which hired him as a fresh design school graduate. When he left in 2011, he was the artistic director of ZZegna but with the departure of Stefano Pilati, he is now in charge of design for the entire Ermenegildo Zegna Group. And with his debut couture show two weeks ago, it was clear - you can take the designer out of Zegna, but you can't take the Zegna out of him.
On Jan 13, Zegna's show - titled Crafted Modernity: A "Made to Measure" Fashion Show - opened the Milan autumn/winter 2017 collection previews, and was staged at the HangarBicocca art space under a permanent installation called The Seven Heavenly Palaces by German painter and sculptor Anselm Kiefer.
Sartori scored with a collection that stays true to Zegna's roots with an emphasis on fabric technology that put its Trivero factory to the test, while also progressing from classic Italian menswear with a new fluidity. He created 46 looks featuring: geometric jacquards; felted cashmere; tufted mohair; a casentino woven from cashmere and alpaca; skins treated with vegetal wax to lend a lighter look; and pelle tessuta, a material woven from thin leather strips.
The overall aesthetic was one of sharp tailoring but with softer silhouettes. Think leather jackets with drawstring waists and zips, light hiking boots and soft cashmere hoodies, keeping the brand accessible to not only top CEOs but the self-made tech entrepreneur. Inside-out constructions bring a focus on functionality instead of just looks. Sartori himself wore plump padded trainers with his suit at the show.
The colour palette ranged from tones of winter white and light grey to camel, vicuna, rusted nail and African earth but fans of bolder shades can opt for the oxblood, pond, peacock green and journal blue pieces.
A selection of the looks will be available to order made-to-measure in stores worldwide with a six-week delivery schedule. The ready-to-wear collection is expected to hit stores in June.