NOT RUN OF THE MILL
The risk of ritual is inertia: easily, the unofficial credo of Ermenegildo Zegna, wool entrepreneur and founder-owner of the namesake company, who, in many ways, laid the foundation not just of the company but Zegna’s community-led welfare activities.
Somewhere between the smarmy stereotype of daydreams and romance novels lies Oasi Zegna (Zegna Oasis): a 100 km cloud of a million pines, dotted with blushing bushes of rhododendrons and hydrangeas in, the eastern part of the Biella Alps between Trivero and Valle Cervo.
The Zegna Oasis traces its roots to the 1930’s, when Ermenegildo zegna decided to re-configure the barren landscape around Trivero, the village of his birth. Apart from building houses for employees and a health, training, sports and recreational centre for the villagers, his project also included complete reforestation of the mountains and the construction of a road, dubbed ‘the Zegna Panoramic route’.
Rewind the spool of memory to 1910 when Ermenegildo founded his wool mill in Trivero. One hundred years on and the historical and cultural legacy has inspired Casa Zegna, an ambitious museum-archive to conserve Zegna’s history by scrupulous archiving of all documentary records and, most importantly, the priceless fabric samples, documents, photos and technical drawings; not merely vignettes of history but still inspiration for the current generation of Zegna designs and fabrics.
Of course, tradition meets transformation at the Zegna Wool Mill— renowned not just for crafting textiles for Zegna garments but also for Tom Ford, Armani and Gucci. Famous for being one of the few brands involved in the entire vertical integration of their product: from raw material sourcing to finishing, commitment to quality and artisan craftsmanship is the living tradition here.
Over the last 100 years, the Lanificio (mill) has concentrated on the production of high quality wool, cashmere and mohair fabrics. Fabrics differ in terms of the raw materials used, naturally, and whether they are worsted or woollen. Of the woollen products from Lanificio, cashmere is the most outstanding, while Trofeo, a worsted fabric made from Australian Superfine merino wool is a Lanificio Ermenegildo Zegna classic.
Of course, the real allure of a classic, is whether “it is serviceable over time and how it will look in ten years”. But, don’t mill around for the answers, just visit Trivero.
“With Zegnart, we wish to create a viable meeting point between the two seemingly distant worlds of business and culture using art as the bridge and medium of communication.” ANNA ZEGNA, IMAGE DIRECTOR,
ingly original composition operates within the interdisciplinary space where art, fashion, design, architecture and poetry co-operate to comment on the complexity of our times.
The exhibition, curated by Maria Luisa Frisa, and conceived by Zegna in collaboration with the Centre for Sustainable Fashion at London College of Fashion is dedicated to Italy’s fabulous capital and engages with the code of ethics and sustainability in fashion.
The Ortas envisioned the MAXXI project in the context of Zegna’s involvement in the arts and coherent with its social engagement. Fabulae
Romanae focusses on the life of the wandering tribe and the artists created tailor-made tents and parachutes, video art performances and a series of characters known as ‘The Spirits’ (wearable sculptures on display at the museum), that according to the curator have “become messengers of the noises and experiences of urban daily life.”
The installation addresses the museum—a contemporary symbol of Rome— as the focal point of a metaphorical map outlining new trajectories through the city. Rome is lived and interpreted as a welcoming space, multi-ethnic and comprehensive, where the trajectories of beauty, goodness and convenience meet. The installation is made with particular fabrics created by Zegna, that were chosen by the artists for their material and technological qualities that represent the symbolic function of protection.
The next chapter of Zegnart unfolds in India, in Mumbai, which will be followed by Turkey in 2013 and Brazil in 2014. “We want to make art and its appreciation more democratic; to be enjoyed in the public space and not just in a museum”, says Anna Zegna, image director, Zegnart. “In a country as historically alive as India, Zegnart seeks to tap the energy, vitality and pioneering spirit of its people and the city of Mumbai,” she adds. Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum, one of Mumbai’s oldest museums, (institutional partner in the project) will, over the next few months, explore the art scene to present an offer for Zegna’s first public commission in India. Clearly, it’s time to move the easel and nail the colours to the mast as art and fashion fuse to blur borders.
Fabulae Romanae will be exhibited to the public from March 22 to September 23, 2012; post which, one of the works within the complex installation will be donated by Zegna to the MAXXI.
WOOLLEN FABRIC ON THE LOOM AT LANIFICIO IN TRIVERO ( LEFT); STORED YARN AT THE MILL ( BELOW); A STRIP OF OASI ZEGNA ( FAR LEFT)
THE SPIRITS ( WEARABLE SCULPTURES) WEARING THE DOME INSTALLATION MADE OF RECYCLED ZEGNA FABRICS, BY THE ORTAS.