A privileged view of the Zegna archives, the backstage of history and creativity
Sunday 13 November, on the occasion of Enterprise Culture Week, Casa Zegna will be opening up the heart of its archives for the first ever public viewing of the historic samples. Compounding techniques, research and creativity, the sample collections give us a view of fashion and the evolution of style, but not only: the Ermenegildo Zegna samples tell a story that started over 100 years ago with Fabric No. 1.
<<It’s a piece of history being kept for posterity, a snapshot of the present and a memento for the future. It’s an orderly collection of fragments of a season, fashions destined to last or return, technical innovations, sales strategies. It’s continuity and identity. It’s a little big invention, the sample collection. Ermenegildo Zegna made splendid use of it and from the very first specimen kept a personal copy of the samples for each season, which have come down to us in perfect condition. This was in 1910, when the young Ermenegildo, 18, founded the Zegna Wool Mill in Trivero, in the Biella Alps.
Ermenegildo started to produce fabrics using four looms. In his vision, they had to be “the most beautiful in the world”. Like “Fabric No. 1”, the first material produced by the Mill. Who knows whether Ermenegildo was wearing it himself in the photo showing him in a dark suit, tie and a waistcoat with a pocket watch and a cameo with an effigy of his mother. Sober and elegant, like the fabrics from his wool mill that Count Zegna wore with naturalness. What better publicity for his product?
Industrialist and creative, he saw the samples as a "complex object" in three "containers": the book, the box and the notebook. The first has a strip of fabric, the material in its standard version. Beside the cut of fabric, the technical specifications as a record of the product and source of potential reinventions: the composition of the warp and weft, weaving indications, treatment and finishing characteristics. The box, on the other hand, contains the entire collection of a season, with the articles and different versions. The notebook, lastly, was Ermenegildo Zegna’s “tablet”. In that small moleskine, one for every six months, he precisely summarized the operations of the company, the factory, even the cost of raw materials, the secrets of the yarn mixes, the addresses of representatives sent all over the world and of Italian and foreign clients.
This is how, all the way from "Fabric No. 1" to infinity, three generations of Zegnas have been producing and exporting worldwide.>>
Danilo Craveia, Archive technical consultant
To see this story close up, don’t miss Heritage Day, a free guided tour of the archives. Booking is obligatory and any voluntary donations to CESVI (for earthquake victims in central Italy) will be welcome.
Info and booking
Via Marconi, 23 – Trivero (BI)
Tel. 015 7591463