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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Why I Love Fashion But Not Necessarily Fashion Types

Arty farty had a party,
and all the farts were there,

Tooty Fruity did a beauty,
and they all ran out for air

I have never been one to enjoy the Australian fashion industry per se. I love people who make fine cloth. I like a great workroom. I like to watch an artisan in the swing of things. But that's about where I call it a day. 

When you travel to the looms and workrooms in Italy you usually find that the people who work behind the front line are of a similar ilk. They are straight down the line; seldom are they la di da. That is my experience too of one of the Zegna family members that invited me to the Zegna Wool Trophy Award ceremony last night. He is refined, elegant, he seldom speaks loudly and when he does choose to speak it is with a considered authority on any given subject relating to fashion production. He once felt my scarf and then pulled away some of the fibres slowly and looked at them under the light and declared 'No, it's not cashmere'. Unfortunately I cannot tell you his name, but I will say that when I first met him he considered me to be brash and brazen and we argued over linen as a cloth as we walked the streets of Venice. 

Last night, that kind of intelligence and knowledge base was in Sydney. It was the Zegna family and the 160 journalists they had flown across the world to visit the New England farms where the Zegna family sources most of it's finest merino wool. The farms, which I have talked about in previous posts on wool production, were playing host to some of the world's most interesting fashion commentators. One of the most thrilling aspects of the evening was seeing the various styles of the international community of journalists, some of whom were dressed so brilliantly and with such poise, that it was like I was coming up for air. One thing which we don't get in Sydney is a constant flow of these types and the reason that it was so refreshing was that they finally neutralised the existing local junta of Australian fashion cognoscenti. And for this alone I will always be fantastically proud of the Zegna event. It was as though the Zegna people opened the windows and said 'here Sydney, have some fresh air, we think arty farty did a farty in your city' (feel free to use a Northern Italian accent here).

Forget the canapes. Forget the size of the production. Forget the body of work that went down the runway and all the little elements that must have gone into pulling that one collection together, from the buckles on each overcoat and the number of moulds that they would have had to developed or the volume of clothing that would have had to have been shipped. Forget the wool display and the understanding of why we were here to enjoy the night, that the Zegna family had spent decades cultivating and marketing Australian wool. Forget all of it if you want to. But don't forget the way in which they opened up those windows and let all that fresh air in. A great inspiration and I look forward to them doing more work in promoting Australian wool and if they ever have another party, I am sure I won't be invited, but I would be the first to line up.

On display, the various types of wool that Zegna uses and the countries from where they source it.

A display of silk cocoons.

New England wool, some of the most prized wool in the world, the quality of which has been guided by a process of Australian farmers working closely with companies such as the Zegna group.

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