September 08, 2007
There were more big brands than ever on New York's menswear calendar this season, a situation that presented itself as a recipe for the triumph of commerce over creativity. Then Z Zegna came along to shake that notion with a show of extremes. Extraordinary proportions and fabrics of indefinable provenance led one to conclude that big businessremembering the parent company's place in the global scheme of menswear thingswas taking a backseat to the belief that there might be a generation of men who want to dress like nomads on Mars. The nomadic association inevitably reactivated visions of Raf Simons' last show, with its exploding, imploding proportions, gigantic backpacks, and tech footwear. They were all here, the backpacks matching oversized parkas and shorts that were so voluminous they looked like skirts. And they were presented in something called "paper-touch cotton," a reminder that Z Zegna is the repository of some of the most advanced fabric technology in the world. The shorts were, in fact, the key item in the collection, delivered in everything from cotton and linen to a bizarre chunky knit. When the models weren't wearing skirt-shorts, they were in jodhpurs or legging-tight trousers. And with so much volume swirling around their thighs, it seemed only fair that their top halves should be tightly reined in with four-button jackets. Paired with porkpie hats, these gave the models a fifties jazz-bo groove, which, in the general context of spaciness, had an echo of Blade Runner's blend of noir and sci-fi. (The hints of Orientalia had a Blade Runner vibe too.) At the finale, the new model army marched past in eye masks. Is the future really so bright we'll have to wear shades?