NOT RUN OF THE MILL

India Today - - SPICE -

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,

ERMENEGILDO ZEGNA

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.

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