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Crafting Modernity – Relaxed & classical

Ermenegildo Zegna

MILAN, Jan 14, (Agencies): Italy’s high-end tailor Ermenegildo Zegna launched Milan’s menswear fashion show on Friday with a relaxed yet sophisticated collection inspired by classical looks from the 1940s and 1950s.

From Cashmere suits to vegetable-leather overcoats, Zegna’s ‘Crafting Modernity’ collection blends exquisite tailoring with the fast-paced needs of the modern globetrotter, while the influence of sportswear brings a new look to formality.

The show is the first of just under 40 catwalk runs in the Italian fashion capital that will showcase designs for autumn and winter 2017/2018.

But some top brands including Kering’s Gucci and Bottega Veneta and Calvin Klein will be missing, shunning the men’s shows and opting instead to present combined collections at the more high profile women’s week.

Also off the calendar is Italian fashion group Roberto Cavalli, whose creative director Peter Dundas left in October and has not yet been replaced.

Zegna presented the first full season by Alessandro Sartori, who returned to the family-owned firm as artistic director in June.

The fashion house has moved away from three distinct brands — Z sportswear, classic Ermenegildo Zegna, and couture — opting for a single brand with three lines sharing colour palette, styles and shapes, but keeping their own label.

“Our clients can mix pieces from the different lines more easily and freely,” Sartori told reporters ahead of the show.

He said his clothes transcended generations and were for the consumer with an “interesting personality”.


Models on Friday evening walked through ‘The Seven Heavenly Palaces’ installation of German painter and sculptor Anselm Kiefer in a section of the Pirelli HangarBicocca, a former locomotive factory, on the outskirts of Milan.

The models wore over 250 new pieces, in 46 different full outfits, many of which inspired by the shapes, styles and details of the post-war years.

They wore Casentino coats, reinterpreted in alpaca cashmere, and suit ensembles made in cashmere jersey. Formal 2-button jackets were downplayed by padded sleeves and classical-cut trousers were made more sporty by cuffed hems.

Derbys were reinterpreted with light-weight materials to make them look like sneakers and brogue shoes made sturdier with silicone soles.

Outfits were prevalently in wool white, melange grey and vicuna beige, dotted with browns, greys, petrol blue a pond green.

Milan’s menswear shows close on Tuesday with veteran designer Giorgio Armani.

Morale is low at Lanvin with staff expecting job cuts after France’s oldest fashion brand swung into the red in 2016 and new designer Bouchra Jarrar failed to lift sales, sources told Reuters.

The company appointed advisory firm Long Term Partners to conduct an audit and it is due to present its findings to Lanvin’s board at the end of this month and recommend ways to reduce the company’s cost base, the sources with first hand knowledge of the matter said.

Founded in 1889, Lanvin is one of France’s last major independent fashion brands, part of the country’s fashion heritage, in the same league as LVMH’s Christian Dior, Hermes and privately owned Chanel.

Lanvin expects to post a net loss of more than 10 million euros for 2016 — its first in nearly a decade — against a profit of 6.3 million euros in 2015, sources have said.

Many items on its website are being offered at a 50 percent discount. Sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the company’s woes stem in part from the uncertainty created by the arrival of its new designer, as well as the luxury spending downturn and underinvestment.


Controlling shareholder, 75-year-old Chinese media magnate Shaw-Lan Wang who is based in Taiwan, has been reluctant to invest in the brand for many years.

Wang would also not let her associate, private investor Ralph Bartel who owns 25 percent, inject more cash into the business as it would dilute her stake, the sources said.

“It is clear that the company’s situation is deteriorating fast and now it is in a stalemate,” one of the sources told Reuters.

“But since Mrs Wang simply refuses to sell or (let the capital) be diluted, there is nothing we can do about it. It is so sad for the brand and its staff.”

Wang shocked the fashion world in 2015 by sacking star designer Alber Elbaz after a boardroom dispute.

Elbaz had been at the creative helm for 14 years and was frustrated by Wang’s refusal to invest in Lanvin, particularly in areas crucial to growth such as new boutiques and accessories, several sources said.

Lanvin declined to comment, while a spokesman for Wang said she was not available for comment and Long Term Partners did not return calls or emails asking for comment.

Luxury analysts believe that Lanvin, had it benefited from more investment, has all it takes to become France’s answer to Italy’s Valentino, now generating more than 1 billion euros ($1.07 billion) in sales and preparing itself for a flotation.

Instead, orders for new collections from multi-brand shops and department stores, which represent around 70 percent of Lanvin’s turnover, fell 30-40 percent in the last half year.

Overall, consolidated 2016 sales fell by more than 20 percent to below 170 million euros, from 210 million in 2015, several sources said.

Designer Jarrar, appointed in March last year, presented at a show in September a Lanvin woman dressed in black and white tuxedos, very different from Elbaz’s ethereal, light, ultra-feminine silhouettes adorned with clunky jewellery.

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