January 14, 2011 Milan
"In the Mood for China," read the on-screen pre-show title. But the soundtrack was the saturated melancholy of Kar Wai Wong's In the Mood for Love, and it was the romance of the past that dominated the collection. Like Marco Polo, the first Italian to make it to Asia seven centuries ago, the new Zegna man was a traveler in search of the exotic.
The visual cue for the collection was a centuries-old scroll that depicts life in China during the period when Polo arrived. Its ornate, gilded design was duplicated on shirts, scarves, lapels, jacket linings, the runway, and even the jacquard that covered the cushions in the show space. And the Zegna clothes were a complement in the sense that they evoked the wardrobe of the kind of explorer who might devote his life to the discovery of such a scroll. It wasn't only the obvious Indiana Jones things, like the belted jackets or the footwear or the leather pouches or the rugged outerwear. It was also the feeling of casual connoisseurship that underpinned the luscious tweeds, checks, and leathers.
An evening finale integrated east and west, with Chinese red and gold accenting tuxedos. Again, the mood was romantic, more Shanghai in the 1930's than the 2010's. But surely that's the spirit fashion should bring to the juggernaut collision of Occident and Orient.