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Italian Designer Releases New Collection With A Catwalk In The Italian Alps

In post-lockdown Italy, Zegna presents SS21 collection in new "phygital" medium

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Sara Gilardi
Sara Gilardi
Italian, currently in Sweden. Degree in Foreign Languages and Literatures. Wide range of interests (geopolitics, women rights, art and fashion)

ITALY. Trivero. On the 16 July, Alessandro Sartori presented the Zegna SS21 collection for Milan Men´s fashion week. He did so with the video of a spectacular catwalk show running through a forest in the Biella Alps, in the north of Italy. Namely, the 3km-catwalk stretched through the nature reserve Oasi Zegna to reach the roof of the Ermenegildo Zegna Wool Mill, in Trivero.

Ermenegildo Zegna founded his factory in 1910 and created the nature reserve later, in the ´30s, with the intent to harmonise man-made activity with nature. The Zegna group chose to celebrate its 110th anniversary in this special location.  Such a choice fits perfectly in the “back-to-the-roots mood” dominating fashion after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in Italy.

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Nature, fluidity, and machine precision.Titled “Nature – Man – Machine”, the video symbolically opened with the image of a hedge being pruned to reveal the first models approaching through the meadows. Such an image was possibly a hint to a humanity capable of managing nature and of creating harmony. This would resonate both with Zegna´s past politics and with its present focus on recycling and re-using.

Above all, though, it was a reference to the spirit of the Zegna SS21 collection, which tried to join the fluidity of nature and the precision of machinery. In line with Alessandro Sartori´s modern take, classic sartorial elements mixed with sporty informal ones, for a soft sartorial style.

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Lightness, comfort and hybridity. As Alessandro Sartori put it, Zegna SS21 was about “light colours, beautiful fabrics, light construction and light shoulders”. Thus, in line with the idea of combining elegance with comfort, Zegna SS21, for example, featured silk shirts with a soft turtle neck as an alternative to shirts. It also included tight jackets with raglan shoulders and breasted jackets with a special buttoning. Hybridity pervaded the whole collection as well. Thus, Zegna SS21 included light garments which could be worn as overcoats or matched to create a formal suit. It also showcased many outfits with a regimental striped motif, from suits to shirts and matching scarves, and tie-dye shirts.

The main colours of Zegna SS21 were brown and soft shades of pink, yellow and light blue. The fabrics, in part recycled or reused, included silk, silk mohair, and silk cotton. As Alessandro Sartori explained, a variety of garments were made of very light fabrics (180 grams) typically used for shirts.  Cool pockets and accessories, like the silk neck scarves and the innovative shoulders bags, enhanced the beauty of the collection.

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A “phygital” experience. Because of the complications linked to the COVI-19 pandemic, Milan Men´s fashion week, like Paris‘s, was mostly held digitally. Alessandro Sartori coined the term “phygital” to describe a real catwalk, without public, and film it as a portmanteau of ‘physical’ and ‘digital’. He expressed his enthusiasm at the idea of having the possibility to get in touch with the viewer directly. He also envisioned a future in which the brand would experiment with all the possibilities offered by digital medium.

The term “phygital” actually refers to the creation of an interactive user experience bridging the digital and physical worlds. In fact, interactivity was limited to interaction through the social media. On the other hand, Alessandro Sartori stepped on the roof at the end of the fashion show and explained details of the Zegna SS21 collection. This direct contact, a privilege usually reserved to the press, must have been something new and enthralling for the viewers. Fluidity it is not only a property of nature or clothes. It is also the human ability to change and to accept challenges. In this respect Alessandro Sartori seem to demonstrate a fluid mind.

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