Diametrically Opposed

By Roxanne Robinson

DSquared2 and Ermenegildo Zegna powers the start of Men’s MFW

Two powerhouses, DSquared2 and Ermenegildo Zegna at different ends of the fashion spectrum – and town kick off Milan Men’s Fashion Week.


Oh Canada! What a time to celebrate the only decent North American country left standing. And such serendipitous timing for Dean and Dan Caten, Ontario’s wonder design twins who took Milano by storm twenty-five-plus years ago perfectly melding Canadian cold-weather gear with sizzling Milano sex appeal. Case in point, these guys made Trapper’s hats chic.

They celebrated their quarter-century with a collection that was more poignant than a rehash of greatest hits – past themes include sexy campers, islands castaway and flight crew chic – the Canadian west prevailed here, particularly pragmatic in today’s challenging times. The Alberta cowboys and cowgirls in sexy shearlings, plaid flannels, parka, and frontier jackets and floor-length coats in plaid and yoked western suede were paired with low-cut tight jeans or panty-shorts on the ladies and sweaters and hoodies bearing a “Love Is” message culled from the original 70’s cartoon series by Kim Casali, surprisingly en pointe today. The subtext of garb made for survival-ism may have been unintentional, it played as a metaphor for their own survival in the fickle world of fashion. 25 years is no easy feat in today’s selling climate but DSquared2 demonstrates what a strong brand identity did and can mean.

The twins closed the show with a trip down memory lane with a film/slideshow depicting their humble beginning and their rise through the fashion ranks marking collaborations with celebrities, photographers and fashion glitterati. Joining them were three remaining members and sisters of the Nile Rodger’s produced disco group, Sister Sledge who sang their classic hit “We Are Family” with the boys shimmying down the runway alongside divas. Always known to love a party, the anniversary was topped off with a raging dance party attended by mainly under-25 Milanese partygoers, a sure sign that brand has the next 25 in the bag.

Ermenegildo Zegna

Speaking of twenty-somethings and family, Italian textile and menswear behemoth Ermenegildo Zegna still helmed by family member Gildo Zegna showed their progressive ZegnaXXX collection across town. Designed by Alessandro Sartori, the show picked up where last season left off driving home the brands ahead-of-the-curve sustainable upcycled practices. Furthering the point, the brand teamed up with Brooklyn-based artist Anne Patterson who created a textile forest set from strips of leftover Zegna textiles in shades of green and blue that hung from the ceiling of a decrepit former Milan foundry. 

The art and the Zegna runway serve to highlight the innovation associated with the brand. Sartori made a viable case for the “suit as cool” for a newer younger generation of potential clients, albeit those with a penchant for military-style berets. Jackets with neatly tailored shoulders and sleeves gave way to a single-button body that flowed with ease which then paired with cropped pants ranging from super slim to high-waist, full-hip tapered styles suggesting an updated Zoot suit. Sustainability in the form of jacquard knits and woven prints made from upcycled textile filaments translate to a fresh take on business attire, especially when shown in novel colors for the office such as teal, rust, and burgundy. Texture know-how was evident in shaved shearlings, embossed suede, and abstracted intarsia logos.

Glimpses of Stefano Pilati’s work for the brand were noticed – the kimono coat and the bomber-over-dress-suit – but were a welcome revisit. So was a photographers-inspired new crossbody bag featuring a vintage Zegna logo designed by graphic designer Bob Noorda. The bags were not one-offs but start of a collaboration with Leica that will eventually lead to a photography project between the two brands portraying modern masculinity through a women’s eye. Even more for the young guns to love about the brand.