Choreographing a modern dance performance around a collection of clothes might seem like an imposing task. But since Ermenegildo Zegna’s artistic director Alessandro Sartori had already designed costumes for several of famed choreographer Benjamin Millepied’s ballet performances, it was apparently time to return the favor.
At an event last month at the Sheats-Goldstein Residence in Beverly Hills, a modernist gem of a mansion overlooking the city, the company launched a lineup of tailoring-meets-sportswear essentials called the Ermenegildo Zegna Couture XXX Collection (the name is a reference to the three handmade “X” stitches on the label’s tailoring). Unlike most collection launches, this wasn’t your typical runway show. To cap off the celeb-studded affair, Millepied staged a modern dance performance inspired by the new collection, all while the performers actually wore pieces from the collection.
This new line-up from Ermenegildo Zegna—a company known by many for its high-end tailoring—seeks to bring couture-level craftsmanship to a stylish range of casual wear. It also seeks to create a few new silhouettes along the way, the most notable of which being a tuxedo that mixes a traditional jacket with tailored joggers. (This particular look just so happens to be Sartori’s favorite.)
Some of the other looks from the mix-and-match collection—which is available now in L.A. and New York, and will be available globally starting February 8—include outerwear, denim, T-shirts, and sweatshirts, all of which have been produced in eco-friendly materials including cotton, recycled polyester, and technical silk fabrics. We spoke with Sartori about his inspiration for the collection, fashion’s move towards casual wear, and his love for one of fashion’s fastest-growing capitals—Los Angeles.
The new collection is all about comfort and movement.
“First of all, I wanted to explore the idea of different constructions and different fabrics and fabrications. We included knitted fabrics and non-classic regular woven fabrics. And a lot of jersey too, all with a lot of special construction. Although everything is deconstructed and unlined, at the same time, we wanted cooling fabrics. So the idea was to combine what was classic with what was comfortable and cool. It’s a new generation of light products, which is why we used dance, and specifically this type of modern dance, as inspiration.”
The construction is routed in couture.
“With Zegna, we have three collections. The active one, Z Zegna, and then the more classic one, Ermenegildo Zegna, and now the couture collection. With the sportswear side becoming more important, I wanted a way to express creativity through it. Like, this is an example: the tuxedo with the jogger pants. The idea of this combination is particularly nice to me.
I want to use the craftsmanship and the artisanal and the beautiful couture construction in a new generation of modern garments. So for sure, a fusion of sportswear and tailoring is in the DNA of the line. But more than that, I think it is the idea of bringing couture construction and couture craftsmanship into casual wear. Because normally you imagine casual pieces with lower quality. And the idea is to fuse casual with top quality to create a new aesthetic.”
It’s designed for real guys.
“Mostly it’s for people on the street. Streetwear and sportswear, it’s now an outdoor generation of men who are influencing everything. And styling is important. We look at a lot of photos, we look at a lot of style shots, because we want to see the things that we like. I think that this aesthetic is becoming a component of our everyday working wear. But really, for me, I design with the idea of what I would like to wear but that doesn’t exist yet.”
It’s been a long time coming.
“It’s a special moment, and this [L.A.] is a special city. And this is Ben’s city. I’ve been coming here for 20 years and it’s a city that I love. And I feel very close to the city—I love the energy, and the light, and the freedom, and people that I meet. For instance, I met Ben through friends here a couple of years ago. We started talking about dance and music and fashion, and the connection between them. Then he ended up asking me to design the costumes for one of his ballet performances. And now we’ve done several together. So it’s a special collaboration. And it’s big for me because we’ve been working on this for a long time.”