Zegna reimagines the iconic shoe for SS22, placing versatility and flexibility at the core of its refreshed design
So long are the days where sneakers are reserved only for athletes. Thanks to modernised updates to the typically sports-centred footwear, comfort, ease and style now go hand-in-hand to its practical counterparts. In the latest announcement from global luxury menswear brand ZegnaZegna, the Triple Stitch Sneaker is proving just that with its versatile approach to aesthetic and design.
Reimagined by artistic director Alessandro Sartori, the Triple Stitch Sneaker returns each season and has consequently solidified itself as an iconic staple within the contemporary menswear capsule wardrobe – especially in the cupboard of Zegna, an enduring influence in the luxury leisurewear industry for 112 years. This new iteration, then, features a revamped silhouette that sees elegance merge with high design and a multitude of wearable colours. A smooth and classic structure means the sneaker can be worn in an array of different settings, from the humdrum of daily life to work, travel and the more leisurely. Coupled with a refreshed take on its materiality, the sneaker sees a rich grained leather paired with canvas and suede, topped off with elastic straps for the wearer to conveniently slip on and off with ease and mobility.
Comfort is indeed of high importance to the design of the Triple Stitch, which is further elevated by its lightweight rubber sole and flexible construction. By emphasising the need for accessibility and comfort, this shows just how much the needs of the modern wearer has changed. The shoe can quite literally be worn with anything, whether it’s the more formal attire to the more casual – a suited trouser to a sporty jogger, for instance.
Formerly making its name in the early 1830s, the sports shoe was first created by The Liverpool Rubber Company, founded by John Boyd Dunlop. At the time, the sneaker made headway for its innovative method of bonding canvas to rubber roles, making it the perfect shoe for trips to the beach. Further down the line, the sneaker steered more in the way of athletics and was therefore dominated by sporting pursuits, moulded by a more athletic function and design. And now, the Zegna Tripe Stitch Sneaker comes at a time of universality; it’s a melting pot of style and form, past and present; it’s to be worn with flexibility at the hand (or foot) of the wearer.
Zegna was founded by Ermenegildo Zegna over 110 years ago in the Piedmont mountains of Northern Italy. Now part of the Ermenegildo Zegna Group, the company has long been committed to preserving and leveraging its heritage – and the Triple Stitch Sneaker update is pinnacle of that.
MYAR founder Andrea Rosso and Port’s David Hellqvist take a closer look at menswear’s fascination with army uniforms and military details, and how the Italian brand is giving vintage pieces a new lease of life
Fashion is all about newness: twice a year we’re supposed to perform a human moulting of sorts by bringing in an entirely new wardrobe. No one does that of course – maybe just the odd new piece, or two – but the concept reflects fashion’s insatiable thirst for novelty. Despite this relentless looking forward, however, a lot of the inspiration for those ‘new’ looks come from the past. Add to that menswear’s constant obsession with army uniforms and military details, and there’s no question about where I’m heading with this.
Andrea Rosso, the founder of MYAR, shares that point of view. Having started 55DSL with his father, Diesel CEO Renzo Rosso, the Italian designer has no shortage of contemporary fashion experience. And MYAR combines Rosso’s Diesel CV with his passionate love for military garments and camouflage. Rosso dedicates his time searching for surplus pieces that can be ‘saved’ and given a new lease of life, as part of his MYAR wardrobe. Re-cut and re-appropriated to suit modern civilian life in terms of fit and silhouette, these garments get to keep their stories and histories while being part of a new narrative.
Not only does it make sense from a sustainability point of view, but it’s a great way of combing the past with the current to create a version of the future. On the back of MYAR’s AW18 presentation in Paris last week, Port quizzed Rosso on his brand, where he finds the stock, and if the connection to danger makes the brand even more interesting.
How would you explain the brand to an outsider?
MYAR, an anagram of ARMY and also my initials, is a brand that brings original military garments back to life. It is more than just a brand, it is an operation; we dig through piles of forgotten dead stock in warehouses around the world and hand pick the pieces we believe are the most special. We take these pieces and give them a modern life.
What is it about army uniforms you like, what attracts you to them?
Within the military dress code every uniform garment is developed through function, not only details but also overall appearance. Uniforms have such a strong visual presence and impression; I like how they make you feel powerful as an individual but also have the sense of belonging in a group. Function and purpose are the best!
What are the advantages of re-tailoring existing uniforms instead of making new designs?
All of these existing items have their own stories and individual mutations, they have past lives worn into them that give them character. Broken and faded areas, cuts and past repairs, dirt and discolouration, new items don’t hold the same character.
What do you look for when going through rails… colour, shape, camo?
I start with an idea in mind, and I’m always looking for colours or patterns that attract me the most. Shape and material are important, then I love going more in depth and looking at construction of details like pockets, collar line, stitching, special trims, and insignia. I already imagine wearing it and so the items pick me. There is always so much I look at, there’s so much chaos in warehouses!
Where do you find them?
Many different military markets and fairs around the world: Italy, south England and, of course, Los Angeles. Also in surprising places like a friend’s garage.
Is the chase and research as much fun as actually re-making them?
The chase to find something special is so much fun, but the continuous research throughout the entire process is the best. With existing products you have to find the right base. These garments hold so much character, we are considerate and always researching how to remake them in a way that respects their history. For MYAR, remaking does not mean reproducing but instead giving a second life to these original pieces by refitting and readjusting to make them more modern. Seeing the transformation is so beautiful.
What is the process when re-designing them?
We always try everything on, seeing the item being worn is so important, as misshapen or dirty as they come! From here we can really see what to consider. The main thing is the sizes and silhouettes from the past need to be adjusted to a more ‘present’ fit. There can be many ways to reinterpret the original sartorial construction. Sometimes we just adjust, and other times we completely unstitch and resew a piece! We look at adding graphics or ink stamped artworks, applying new but always original trims, considering the best wash or treatment; all garments are uniquely considered.
What country makes your favourite fatigues?
There’s many to chose from: I like British army long trench coats and pink camo gas capes, Italian marine workwear jackets and bike overpants from the 70s. Swiss army salt and pepper work jackets, German cotton underwear, US N3-B jackets in cotton, N1 deck jacket with reflective tape applied and internal parka lining. OK… it’s better if I stop here!
How does Italy fare compared to other nations?
The Italian army has probably lost all wars, but we looked great at least!
Does the uniform’s connection to danger and death make it more fascinating in a way?
This is a very delicate question, but of course it makes it more interesting. The connotation of war and death is always negative, but as in all things there is always a positive aspect even in a negative scenario. With MYAR we give a second life, a second chance with a positive approach and use.
Port meets the reluctant actor whose understated talent owes as much to a passion for holistic therapy as it does to stage school
In the 1980s, the gay community was being mercilessly decimated by a disease that the straight world was doing its best to turn a blind eye to, but there was a boisterous hotbed of active Parisian resistance which had other ideas. It’s this loose panoply of lovers, friends and rebels, forming the core of the activist group Act-Up, that acclaimed director Robin Campillo has brought to the big screen in the searing, personal and sometimes dreamlike fresco, 120 Beats per Minute. The film marks a return to the public eye for reluctant acting talent Arnaud Valois. Although he chooses not to define himself as an actor, his fragile yet powerful screen presence sublimely communicates the tragedy and beauty of a love that rages against both the machine and the dying of the light.
In the film – which has been lauded for its candid, unapologetic portrayal of gay sexuality, alongside the fervent activism of one of the most important movements of the ’80s – Valois plays Nathan, the HIV-negative lover of HIV-positive Act-Up firebrand Sean (a role played with startling verve by Nahuel Pérez Biscayart). “We are very lucky in Europe to have people who fought for us, struggling for rights of all kinds – but we need to be vigilant,” Valois tells Port over an intimate coffee in the Marais. “It’s very important to stay aware.” When did Valois become aware of Act-Up’s activism? “I was watching TV one morning with my family and said, ‘Oh, what is that?’” he says, with a smile. “Act-Up had put a condom on the obelisk in the Place de la Concorde. They also organised a big TV show in the ’90s called Sidaction, and it was on all the six main channels.”
Sidaction remains one of the most respected and successful charity organisations raising awareness of HIV and AIDS. It’s an interesting prospect for an actor to portray a docu-fiction version of recent history, especially when, to some degree, that actor’s psychogeography has been personally affected by the related events. How much did those memories shape Valois’s approach to his reticent and quietly sensitive character? “Robin said to us, ‘Please, don’t go too much on documentation or read, like, 20 books on the period. Trust me and trust yourselves. You are young people, so put your imagination in action and let’s work together.’” Given that Campillo is a seasoned Moroccan-French director whose own story and talent is steeped in the history of gay counterculture – as was shown in his 2013 classic Eastern Boys – one can only assume that such trust comes easily. “Absolutely. It was easy and comfortable to work with someone who likes telling his own story,” continues Valois. “It was interesting. The other thing is that he is a really good acting director. He has such a powerful vision of what he wants, so for an actor it’s quite easy. You need to learn your lines and be focused.”
Valois is somewhat playing down his exceptional talent. His propensity for switching mood with an endearing, nuanced grace is stunning, and perhaps somewhat surprising given that he turned his back on acting for a decade after graduating from drama school. “I don’t have two personalities, but there are maybe two sides to myself,” he says. “One is attracted by strong, powerful emotions and the other is driven by soft- ness and peace and calm. I don’t really consider myself to be an actor. I play a part in this movie – which I’m very proud of – but it feels strange for me. I see myself as a massage therapist and sophrologist who sometimes makes films.”
Sophrology is a relaxation technique, combining small movements and deep breathing to help control emotions and fears, and Valois’s commitment to the practice took him away from acting for a number of years. “I studied acting at Cours Florent for two years when I was 20 and was discovered by a casting director for my first movie, Charlie Says by Nicole Garcia. I started an acting career but it wasn’t what I expected,” he says. “I wanted to realise myself in another way. I wanted to be active, to do something with my life, so I went to study in Thailand. It was a personal journey, and then it became about other people – to heal people, first of all you have to heal yourself.” So how did it come to pass that his journey of self-actualisation should witness a return to the screen at all? “This casting director I used to work with 10 years ago called me and said, ‘I’ve got a project for you: Are you still an actor?’ I said no, not at all. But once she explained to me about the politics and historical side of what 120 BPM was, I said okay, I’ll give it a try…”
For Valois, ‘giving it a try’ means excelling in the communication of an extreme and tortuous emotional journey; perhaps his detailed understanding of the body, required for him to work as a practitioner of sophrology, underpins the utterly unique physicality he communicates as an actor. “European people usually separate head and body, but with Asian people their head and the body go together. So learning sophrology, which is a combination of head and body, helped me to redefine my vision of the human identity,” he says. “In France, we are very intellectual and it’s all about the brain. Robin Campillo is an exception because he considers the body and the head together. It’s very important for him, the way you move, the way you act, the way you position yourself on the screen…”
There is an intense physicality about Valois’s performance in 120 Beats per Minute that has been well documented in the press. The sensuality that pours through the screen doubtlessly owes a debt to his devoted practice as a therapist. “It has had a really big impact,” he explains. “When I receive clients at my studio as a therapist, I’m in a particular mode that requires being in empathy with people. I think when you’re an actor you need to be in empathy with your character and partners, so there is a similarity,” he continues. “It also helped me a lot after the filming to refocus, to get back to my life and not stay too much in the fiction of the movie.”
So are we to expect another prolonged retreat from the screen for the therapist-cum-actor, or can we hope to see him on film again soon? “I have an agent and we’re reading scripts together, so hopefully we’ll find an interesting one,” he says, thoughtfully. “I would like to do a biopic, something inspired by a real person – learning about someone and trying to not do an imitation, but instead creating another life for the character,” he says, before a pause. “It was such an intense and magnificent experience to make this film, and I was not really hoping for a return to acting. It would be interesting to do again, but I know this was a unique adventure.” We can only look forward to his next move, knowing that whatever it is, it will be deeply considered and profoundly authentic.
After nearly 30 years as artistic director of Hermès’ menswear line, Véronique Nichanian picks three of her favourite pieces from the past collections, discusses the timeless allure of the French brand and sets out what luxury means to her in 2016
Sitting in a quiet courtyard in the midst of Paris’ 5th arrondissement, with just a few hours to spare before her catwalk show, Hermès Men’s creative director Véronique Nichanian is calm. She seems relaxed, even though, I’m sure, putting on one of the headline shows during Paris fashion week must be extremely stressful, even maddening, at times. But her inner calm stems from confidence in her own skills, her team’s experience, the quality of the clothes and the never-fading allure of the Hermès brand.
For nearly 30 years, Nichanian has been in charge of the French luxury brand’s men’s offering. She started it, famously, by pitching the idea in 1988 to Jean-Louis Dumas, the former chairman and artistic director of Hermès, over a rooftop coffee and croissants. Since then, Hermès has been a staple on the Parisian shop floors, and a favourite among editors finishing off another packed show day with the brand’s signature, understated luxury.
Hermès isn’t really a fashion brand – few people go to Nichanian for a trend-led aesthetic. Instead, Hermès oozes the complete opposite: a timeless purity, which defines the brand’s clothes, advertising and overall image. Sitting casually cross-legged on a bench, protecting her eyes from the strong June sun with a pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses, Nichanian offers her own explanation: “As a brand, Hermès is defined by almost 180 years of integrity, quality, sensuality, creativity and pleasure. It’s also about fantasy.” She’s right: there’s an undeniable level of fantasy attached to the brand that Thierry Hermès founded in 1837.
Today, there are only a small handful of fashion brands that are perceived as pure luxury and Hermès is arguably the one with the lowest public profile, making it slightly obscure and secretive, which only adds to its appeal.
Luxury is the key word and the driving force in this industry, and Nichanian has her own take on what the word means in 2016.
“Today everybody is very rushed, you have to do everything as fast as possible, but I say, ‘OK, let’s slow down’, and that to me is luxury,” she explains. “That is true luxury today, to slow down. Perhaps it should be called ‘slow happiness’?”
It seems that too much lavishness in fashion doesn’t appeal to her either: “We live in a time of superlatives. Just be simple and honest, and do things beautifully with your hands, your head and your heart – that’s the meaning of contemporary craftsmanship,” she says. “In the end it becomes a beautiful object or piece of clothing, which will bring people happiness and connect to their emotions.”
According to Nichanian, Hermès has to be a positive force, bringing strength and happiness to fashion; all garments need to have a message and that’s why they’re part of a collection.
“I don’t consider myself an artist, but in a way there’s something artistic about bringing lightness to the people and making them happy; it’s very important to me,” she says. “I don’t want to do a show where the clothes are like the end of the world. Let’s talk about how life is beautiful instead, even if I have in mind that the world is facing unsettled and complex political and economic contexts.”
Largely known for its leather goods and accessories, Hermès quickly built its reputation and business on producing quality. Whatever they put out, clothes or bags, there’s a consistent sense of perfection.
“At Hermès, the house will always keep in mind the excellence of what we are doing. It takes time, and time is on our side, as the Rolling Stones say. When you take your time in a relationship, that’s when you’re happy,” Nichanian tells me, before pointing out that beauty comes at a price. “Yes, it’s a costly product, but it’s a fantastic and demanding product with honesty behind that.”
There are valid questions to ask, though, about the role of luxury in modern culture, and how the industry can stay relevant. Nichanian knows that stagnation is not an option: she has to look forward in order to keep Hermès contemporary.
“We play with new fabrics, using technical materials and mix them with leathers and other natural fabrics,” she says. “We fuse tradition with technology, and the products we make express that.”
Throughout our conversation, Nichanian keeps coming back to one word: lightness. “Yes, I define my collections in terms of lightness. But in two senses: lightness in the construction and lightness in the way I conceptualise them,” she says. “If you ask me to define what modernity is today, it’s just that: lightness. I remember my father’s clothes were always very heavy and today it’s important, as you want to travel light, to have clothes that follow you in life.”
There are only a handful of women designing menswear on Nichanian’s level. But for the Parisian designer, it seems to have been the natural path to take, as she feels at one with the pragmatic approach some men take to clothes.
“I feel very comfortable with all the millimetres, tiny details and choosing the fabrics,” Nichanian explains. “I’d say it’s a little bit like architecture in a way, a mix of product design, style and fashion.”
“For six months, my team and I work deeply on all the visible and invisible details, shapes and proportions,” she adds. “For me, fashion is the effect of the silhouette on the runway.”
Nichanian kicks off her meticulous design process with the fabrics and, as part of her fabric research she spends two months each season developing new materials.
“Looking at the materials before starting with a garment is very exciting because everything is possible at that time, you can do anything you want,” she explains. “I’m always working on something different. For me it’s important, but I’m sure it’s the same for all designers if they want to lead and not follow. I’m always interested in the next step.”
All those years ago, Véronique Nichanian was given carte blanche to develop Hermès menswear as she wished and this has been her way forward ever since: mixing tradition with technology. The result is what might be considered contemporary luxury, and Nichanian puts its success down to the freedom she enjoys.
“What I love about Hermès is that we are part of a family in a way,” she says. “It gives me freedom and I can do exactly what I want. That freedom is huge and it’s my engine.”
PORT speaks to Katie Chung ahead of her SS17 show in Paris, who reveals what Virgina Woolf’s novel inspired her work
“I discovered Orlando: A Biography, by Virginia Woolf, as a teenager. The idea of gender being insignificant really captured me… Woolf was inspired by her close friend and sometime lover Vita Sackville-West. It didn’t matter to her if Vita was female or male; she was captivated by her intelligence and her presence, and she became a somewhat perfect being in her eyes.
“The beauty of the filmography of Sally Potter’s film adaptation touched me as much as the story itself, and Tilda Swinton is breathtaking in her effortless transformation between a male and female Orlando. As a creative I like to explore this blurred line between masculine & feminine, luxe & functional, graphic & romantic.”
Ahead of his Paris Fashion Week show, French designer Alexandre Mattuissi explains why ballet has shaped him as a creative
“From the ages of four to 14, I used to be a classic ballet dancer: a Billy Elliot if you like. I discovered it when I was watching TV with my mother; I looked at the screen and saw Swan Lake. I said to my mother that I wanted to do this and she told me to ask my father. I said to him that night, ‘Dad I want to dance’. And he said okay.
“My parents really believed in me and they really believed in my passion, so I did that for 10 years. It really helped me to build my passion around art, music and choreography. But what I loved the most about dance was the theatrical and performance side. I love the idea that for a show you work on it for six months and then we do it for one night only. You have the audience, the make-up, the music, the costumes… you have everything. I stopped dance when I was 14 as I realised that my passion was fashion. It was the best field in which I could feel the same kind of feelings.
“When you discover fashion you start to think about art, because inspiration is the base. You have to be precise about the things you believe in and the things you love. I have a special approach with art in general; I’d say I am very curious. As a dancer, you become a performer. It’s a sport, it’s a technique and it’s a gesture: the way you breathe; the way you stand; and the way you put your arm. It really relates to the music and the choreography. It’s really about how you control your own body. From a technical point of view, it’s really interesting as you become an athlete you have to take care of yourself. As a kid it’s special because you become very mature and sensitive about the world you’re surrounded by.
“When I started to do fashion I really related to the body in the same way because clothing is really about a shoulder, a line, a length… So I really had the chance to understand the body before studying. Dance has really helped me as a designer, but it’s only with hindsight that I have realised that.
“It’s hard for me to say I’m an artist because I make clothes and it’s commercial. It’s about business, but the process is creative. Everything I do is about studying a feeling and an inspiration. For my latest collection, my inspiration is the people of Paris in the 1970s and what that guy is wearing. I want to make it effortless, cool and chic, as I am more inspired by people than art.”
PORT speaks to Japanese designer Hiromichi Ochiai, creative director of FACETASM, who explains why he nominates film director Gus Van Sant as his genius
“Gus Van Sant is one of my favourite movie directors and I have always been inspired by him. My favourite movie is Elephant , which he directed in 2003 (and won the Palme d’Or for at Cannes the same year). I watch it every season before I start to design the collection.
“Emotions including loneliness are shown throughout the movie, but there remains a little hope. I always think how I can express this mood with FACETASM. The styling of the characters in Van Sant’s films are always really impressive. But in terms of fashion, I was most impressed by the movie My Own Private Idaho, which he directed in 1991.”