At Ermenegildo Zegna Couture, Stefano Pilati was showing his support for eco warriors this season and stating his concern for all things environmental. On first glance then it seemed odd that his team had hacked down a load of plants - from Juniperus and Camellia to Azalea and Rhododendron (the show notes were kind enough to detail all of the species) - and replanted them in the Citylife Palance in Milan to form the set for the A/W 15 show. But Pilati has a plan; he's arranged for them all to be put back in the earth at Oasi Zegna (a 100km2 nature park which surrounds the Zegna Wool Mill in Trivero in Piedmont). That's him - perfect attention to detail. Nothing gets past him. No trick is missed.
That precision underpinned today's show. He may have been channelling utilitarian wear but, as always with Pilati, there was an seductive opulence to the collection, from those velvet suits to the Harris Tweed outerwear with glistening coated finishes. He'd toyed with the notion of his man as both active protector and passive creature in need of protection. So just as he dressed him up in pseudo-adventurer garb - see the sporty tailored trousers with elasticated cuffs to resemble a jogger, the durable-looking outerwear in dusty khaki tones, and the leather backpacks, worn on the front of the body and furnished with enough compartments for extra water and ammunition, or indeed an iPad and some running gear (whatever the Zegna man actually needs) - he also put him in shells and wrapped him up, mimicking the way nature has allowed some animals to develop innate forms of disguise and self-protection. At its best this idea came through in the outwear with panels and sleeves that seemly zipped off, resembling a retractable shell, at its worst in a sweater that came with a built in cap knitted into the collar for when the Zegna chap wants to retreat into his garments like some scared tortoise.
All in all, the real story was ease and practicality. That's not to say that this was basic or in any way unglamorous - indeed, it's called Couture for a reason - more that Pilati is continuing to modernise the Zegna story and cater to a man who may want the best in luxury but still has to function in the urban jungle and business animal kingdom. So while that set may have conjured illusions of green pastures and the great outdoors, really this collection was about staying safe, protected and most importantly stylish in the modern working climate and social world.