"The first catwalk show of our second century"—it will be a while before any of Zegna's peers can make a similar claim. Even reaching such a milestone, it's unlikely that many of them would be charged with the quiet creativity that propels the company's staples into the future. The suit, for instance. The first one out was a silk seersucker, with a shorter jacket nipped through the torso and a softer, natural shoulder and pants that were belted with a long leather thong. The last was a stylist's touch for sure, but the message was loud and clear: The Zegna suit has lightened up (literally, in the case of the new "zero-weight" jackets). It's also clearly ready for anything, as evidenced by a version in an explosive shade of orange.

That orange was a major accent in the collection, the root of some appealing combinations (an orange Henley and army linen shorts were particularly striking), but the palette also encompassed other sophisticated mixes—pale blue and espresso, for one. The colors reinforced the sportiness that has transformed this label. It was everywhere in the details: leather piping on a cardigan, the belts that closed the pockets of a blouson, the elasticated waist and cuffs on casual pants.

The show closed on white, not just lightness, but a blank canvas on which to create another century. When the label's current caretakers, Gildo, Anna, and Paolo Zegna, brought their father Angelo, Ermenegildo's son, onto the catwalk for a bow, the audience took the only reasonable course of action. It rose to its feet and cheered.