Z Zegna went for a country walk this season—the kind of country walk that wends you toward the local mad-science lab. You can pipe in all the fresh air, birdsong, or forest-floor runway you want (ZZ, at least, provided the latter), but the heartbeat of the label is always going to be innovation. And so it was. The "great outdoors" of the show's title—"The Urban Wanderer Meets the Great Outdoors"—loosened up some of the stricter lines of Paul Surridge's previous collections, but the show stayed as tough and future-leaning as ever. How could it not, given its dedication (so say the trusty show notes) to offering "clarity and order in today's fast fashion maelstrom"?

The collection was made of cloth, you had to admit, but tweaked and teased until you barely recognized it as such: heat-bonded, felted, degradé-d…the list goes on. It seemed more like some kind of alien element. Jackets rounded stiffly about the body or were sewn with reversed seams all the way down to their jointed elbows, so that they seemed to be exoskeletons. There were intricately quilted trenches, suits, and bombers, and a full suit made of raincoat. The bags and backpacks had the hard, faceted shape of gemstones.

As a visual spectacle of fashion, this ranked among the highest of the day, and the quality is unimpeachable, but the true success of the collection was that very little of it seemed unwearable—though it's worth wondering if every customer shares Surridge and the label's taste for tweaks. Some shearling buyers may prefer shearling to the wool-and-silk replicant version ginned up here, say. Then again, some may not. If Surridge and Z Zegna do decide to stop and smell the flowers a bit, they're headed in the right direction. They're out there in the great outdoors.