A Designer Debut at Z Zegna

Paul Surridge shows his first collection for the brand.

When a new designer debuts at men’s fashion week in Milan, the excitement is palpable. When that designer has made a name for himself at the lauded houses of Jil Sander and Burberry, it reaches a fever pitch. Such was the case at 38-year-old Paul Surridge’s inaugural show for Italian brand Z Zegna.

British-born Surridge did not disappoint. His forward-thinking designs—which included archival silhouettes reconceived in super-high-tech fabrics—showed he’s more than up to the task of ushering the brand into the future. Here’s what Surridge, Z Zegna’s creative director, had to say.

Q: Tell me about the creative vision behind your first Z Zegna collection.

A: I wanted to reference the sartorial foundation of the brand and at the same time explore new ways to renovate and modernize the tailored wardrobe. I deconstructed and reconstructed the suit, creating a new shoulder style, studying innovative ways to press the garments and working closely with the in-house tailors. I took inspiration from the early leisure suits of the 1920s, looking at the elongated, elegant silhouettes and streamline cut of the jackets.

Q: The effect was very refreshing. The clothes are familiar yet starkly modern.

A: I have always been inspired by the purist aesthetic in all disciplines of design. I started the collection saying, “No decoration or detail without function.”

Q: How does this work in terms of Italian style?

A: I like that Italian men make an effort when getting dressed. Fashion awareness and the personal relationship to clothes is an early experience in the culture. I like that Italian men are not afraid to look good or try something new. This attitude to convey a message of confidence or self-pride is present in the collection. But there is a fine line between confidence and vanity, so it’s important to mix things up a little.

Z Zegna suits start at $1,195; car coats, $1,895; zegna.com.