February 27, 2013 Paris
The setting played its part. The show took place at the Espace Cambon—across the street from Chanel's old digs, as it happens—with the models descending a grand marble staircase before proceeding down the runway in recessed-heel pumps or lug-sole ballerinas. They were princesses, or 1950s boarding-school girls with a wild side, some actually gadabout-ing in their silk pajamas and "diamond" necklaces.
Zanini is an eccentric who loves the classics. Familiar pieces were made just slightly less so by quirky color combinations (apricot and mallard green, baby pink and bordeaux) and by unexpected fabrics. Knits needle-punched with silk took on an almost scubalike stiffness; camel hair was brushed so it looked as pilled as your favorite old sweater; and the shaved mink wasn't fur at all but a synthetic. It's the remarkable proportions of Zanini's opera coats and that New Look skirt that linger in the memory, but for every outsize thing on the runway, there was a pair of smart cropped silk pants, a cool Eisenhower jacket, or a sweet little sweater. Safe to say, Zanini outdid himself with this one.