There's a new creative director at Z Zegna, and appropriately, he has defined his target audience as "a new generation of gentlemen." Signs point to Paul Surridge being a modernist at heart. There's the track record (he was most recently head of menswear at Jil Sander) and the influences (he cited Pierre Cardin as a guiding spirit for his Zegna debut). And there's the game plan. Surridge seems keen to streamline the orthodoxies of menswear. To that end, he refused to break his collection into categories. No eveningwear, for instance. But at the same time, the designer claimed he wanted to revive a sense of the elegance of dressing up. He'd tapped Zegna's archives, explored the history of sartorial dressing, so there was a strong sense of tradition in what he offered: The high-breaking double-breasted jacket worn over narrow cuffed pants had an almost Edwardian line. And four-buttoned jackets were an archival echo.

This recombination of past and future was something that Alessandro Sartori made into a Z Zegna signature. Surridge had his own take on it: less romantic, more urgent, younger. The funnel-necked, zipped-up car coat, for instance, had parachuted in from Planet Cardin. (Surridge likes zips: "superfast, supermodern," he said.) And there was a smoothly Gattacan edge to monochrome outfits like the industrial trench with matching pants, shoes, and gloves. In fact, smooth-shading-to-featureless was a lingering impression. You could put that down to the natural caution of a debut. And Sartori is, after all, a hard act to follow. But Surridge himself is one of that new generation he was talking about, and he's certainly in the right place now to make the most of his forward thinking.