At Ermenegildo Zegna, the worlds of ac­ces­sory and cloth­ing are about to merge


Speak­ing with the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen and his off-screen per­sona, Char­lie Cox

IN THE THREE YEARS that Ste­fano Pi­lati was creative di­rec­tor at Ermenegildo Zegna, his work had been about re­struc­tur­ing the brand’s var­i­ous lines and in­te­grat­ing them into a con­sis­tent de­sign lan­guage. This he has suc­cess­fully done. He uni­fied the brand’s iden­tity in ways big and small, and in­deed, into a lan­guage that flows from the Ermenegildo Zegna Couture run­way col­lec­tion. At Zegna, Pi­lati also had the op­por­tu­nity to ex­per­i­ment with new ma­te­ri­als and tech­niques, and this sea­son, the brand has man­aged to com­bine the two most crit­i­cal ma­te­ri­als in the lux­ury fash­ion in­dus­try ‒ fab­ric and leather. Zegna’s fore­most bril­liance is in its fab­rics. The Lan­i­fi­cio Zegna is af­ter all, how the brand started and it re­mains key to the brand’s suc­cess. The com­pany thus took things a step fur­ther, work­ing leather in the same method as fab­ric to cre­ate a wo­ven leather fab­ric that it named Pelle Tes­suta (the name lit­er­ally trans­lates to “wo­ven leather”). Leather goods are es­sen­tial to most brands’ com­mer­cial suc­cesses ‒ the hand­ful of rare ex­cep­tions such as Lan­vin or Vete­ments stand apart from nearly all other ma­jor lux­ury la­bels. Yet leather has its own dis­ad­van­tages. For one, work­ing with leather can be chal­leng­ing. Se­condly, leather’s strength and dura­bil­ity is de­rived from its weight, thick­ness and other phys­i­cal at­tributes that are usu­ally lost when leather is worked on its own. Saf­fi­ano leather is gen­er­ally con­sid­ered to be the most durable of leathers while nappa is the most pli­able. What Zegna did with Pelle Tes­suta was to treat nappa leather like yarn. Pi­lati cut leather into fine strips, ran them on a tra­di­tional loom, form­ing warp and weft to of­fer a durable and flex­i­ble ma­te­rial. That meant the fine strips could be worked even thin­ner and finer than ever seen be­fore. In fact, the idea of work­ing leather in this man­ner is due to the very na­ture of the ma­te­rial. Leather is made up of very fine hair­line fi­bres, so fine that hu­man hair would look thick next to them. These are twisted into coarser fi­bres the same way that threads of wool are twisted into thicker threads. The fi­bres are then wo­ven and shaped to form mul­ti­ple lay­ers, which cre­ates leather’s der­mal thick­ness on an­i­mals. But within this in­tri­cate weav­ing pat­terns are air chan­nels and pas­sages that al­low the skin to sweat and breathe nor­mally. That’s why leather craftsmen of­ten say that leather is a liv­ing ma­te­rial that must be main­tained, cleaned and mois­turised. Most of us are fa­mil­iar with the In­trec­ciato leather of Bot­tega Veneta. That is done in its own unique method with al­ter­nat­ing strips of leather. It’s dif­fer­ent from loom weav­ing, where a trans­verse weft passes through par­al­lel warps threads us­ing a shut­tle. But more can be used in com­plex weav­ing meth­ods ‒ some­thing Zegna is cer­tainly fa­mil­iar with ‒ that can add new styles to fu­ture ver­sions of Pelle Tes­suta. And by dye­ing leather threads in dif­fer­ent colours, this of­fers a new way of pic­tur­ing wo­ven leather. Imag­ine a her­ring­bone tex­ture, but in leather in­stead of wool and on a leather bag, or as a jacket, as light as that of a wool suit. The pos­si­bil­i­ties are end­less. And they are just beginning.

THIS SPREAD CLOCK­WISE Ermenegildo Zegna’s mill pro­duces some of the finest cloths in the world; Ste­fano Pi­lati, for­mer cre­ative di­rec­tor of the Zegna Group; us­ing a tra­di­tonal loom to weave leather into Pelle Tes­suto; Pi­lati back­stage at the SS16...

Leather is made up of very fine hair­line fi­bres, so fine that hu­man hair would ac­tu­ally look thick next to them

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Singapore

© PressReader. All rights reserved.