Z Zegna Menswear Fall Winter 2013 Ready-to-Wear Collection

Z Zegna didn’t open with a suit this season. That should’ve been the first clue.

Speaking with Paul Surridge the day before his third collection for Z Zegna, via a Google+ hangout, the handsome Brit let spill that the particular emblem he had in mind this season was the ‘nomad’. No ruddy old nomad archetype, mind you. “The Great Outdoors – The Urban Wanderer Meets the Great Outdoors” opened with a Byronic stunner – a dark burgundy duster made of what looked like devore’ velvet, though it couldn’t have been. You couldn’t tailor velvet to stand like that. It had a manly starchy quality; it was built to withstand the elements. And whomever this nomad is, he probably travels with a title; something like Viscount.

With a name like “The Great Outdoors”, the natural direction had to be a focus on outerwear, and there was. At first glance, it felt as if the suiting played second fiddle here to the great raincoats, macs and teddys, but on the contrary – suits were everywhere. It was a testament to Surridge’s seamless blend of purpose. With blazers matched with soft ochre turtlenecks, or graphic patterned sweaters bonded in netting at the shoulders, the formal DNA of the brand aligned itself with softer territory. Last season, Surridge gave the clothes a little breathing room. Same agenda here, but the luxuriousness of it all more finely realized. And some of the moves taken to realize that ideal took … well, for lack of a better word – balls. Take the case of a navy blue suit with red stripe detail. The suit alone has gusto to spare, but that vermilion long-sleeve shirt underneath extends to a point past all sartorial code. The black version that came before it under an unstructured navy mac looked as if it came with a hole for the thumb. The gall.

Surridge was doing some wandering of his own in terms of latching onto new silhouettes. Some pieces, like a belted brown coat with a gray fleece panel was half tabard, half Franciscan monk. That same tabard cut was wrought most beautifully toward the end of the show, on a striking Tobiko orange sheath vest. The new passes in formalwear shapes served more romantic purposes. There was a real sensuality to the frayed scarves that dangled in the back of detailed morning coats. The way they extended close to the floor gave the appearance of exaggerated coat tails. It wasn’t all suave recalcitrance. Sometimes it was just plain suave.