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BEHIND THE SCENES

Zegna From Start to Finish

October 20, 1994|ROSE APODACA JONES

With her intelligence, determination, subtle grace and impeccable taste, Anna Zegna exudes confident modernity.

Just ask any of the 200 guests who attended the recent grand opening of the Ermenegildo Zegna shop in South Coast Plaza, Costa Mesa. Conversation buzzed about this charming Italian who, as the head of image and communication for her family's century-old menswear label, was on hand to officially open its West Coast store and do the neighborly thing by giving the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation a check for $5,000.

Zegna, who shares the helm with her brother and cousin, recalls that when she was 4 she played in the wool at the family's textile mills in Trivero, Italy.

There, fine cloths have been woven since great-grandfather Angelo Zegna left the watch trade for apparel in 1910.

Today, it's one of the few European fashion houses that follows clothes from fabric conception to retail sale. Each store offers an in-house tailor who will fit ready-to-wear and measure for made-to-order suits.

The visit to Costa Mesa marked the first time Anna Zegna was seeing the architecture she helped conceptualize for the new 3,000 square-foot store. "It's a more comfortable setting, intended to help the customer feel like he's at home," she says.

"In this way a customer can be right up to the merchandise, can reach out and touch it," she says. Feeling the fabric, she adds, is vital to getting a sense of what works and doesn't.

Fabric is at the core of Zegna, which places an emphasis on wool, cashmere and mohair. But the categories don't stop with pure options: Blends such as linen and cashmere offer a textural depth.

The event previewed the fall '94 collection. Zegna noted the three-button suit worn with a vest would continue to take precedence. Muted browns and related hues of wine and taupe would rule through winter '95, she said. Blue, in a range of hues, can work well mixed with the brown palette.

As a producer of 3 million ties each year created by 16 designers, Zegna addressed the issue of the power tie: "Power tie? What is this? The tie is something a man can change often; it gives a touch of personality. But the power comes from within. Not a tie."

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