Inside the former Palazzetto dello Sport at Piazza 6 Febbraio in Milan, the atmosphere is one of anticipation. This impressive location - urban, industrial, futuristic - is a temple of steel and concrete, a reminder of a time in the city's history when it was undergoing a programme of urban renewal. It's an appropriate place for Pal Zileri to stage a fashion show presenting a contemporary tailoring-based wardrobe.
Sitting inside this space of nearly 10,000 square metres, designed by rationalist architect Paolo Vietti-Violi as the Palazzetto dello Sport and inaugurated in 1923, it's easy to see how it hosted exhibitions, shows and sporting events. Vietti-Violi made his name creating sports facilities, and this enormous space has, in its time, been home to cycle races and gymnastics, boxing and fencing competitions, as well as full of cars for auto shows.
The Pal Zileri spring/summer 2017 fashion show started with a bass-driven electronic rock soundtrack, reminding us we're not in the 20th century but firmly in the 21st. An outfit featuring a navy blue oversized parka in shantung silk with a voluminous hood and nappa-leather details, worn over a dark red suit with shawl collar in silk-linen-cotton bouclé, reinforced the notion that we are here dealing with contemporary design. But it is design of today that combines the best of old and new - the artisanal expertise of Pal Zileri with the new aesthetic vision for the house of Creative Director Mauro Ravizza Krieger. And it is this combination that he calls the philosophy of 'Avant Craft'.
Ravizza Krieger has spoken of his love of art before: 'I move around the different fairs and exhibitions - like the Venice Biennale, Art Basel in Miami Beach and Frieze in London - and find them exciting and inspiring,' he says. Art finds its way into his collections as a breath of inspiration: for spring/summer 2017 we embark on a colourful journey, one that recalls the Italian abstract art movement of the early 20th century, particularly the work of Como-born painter Manlio Rho (1901-1957). Considered to be one of the most important abstract artists Italy has produced, Rho's work shows a balance between strict geometric shapes, fine lines and warm colours in a palette of green, brown and orange.
The new Pal Zileri collection features key graphic motifs that create a visual connection between different garment categories, from jacquard linings in formalwear to digital prints on shirts and jacquard techniques employed on knitwear. The colour palette centres on three hues - fresh cactus green, fruity plum and exotic papaya red - while precious silk fabrics add a fluid dimension to the collection and recall the silk production from Vicenza, an historical centre for the production of this most luxurious of fabrics in the 18th century. The use of clean laser-cutting techniques and open edges on outerwear, leatherwear and leather accessories complements the minimal and abstract spirit of the collection.
Look 1 –Suit in 3D silk-linen-cotton bouclé with a flattering cut makes for an elegant silhouette, while metallic accessories keep it feeling contemporary.
Look 2 –Wide silk pants with a graphic print, teamed with a mandarin-collar silk shirt, lend a refined air to relaxed dressing.
Look 3 – Leather touches are a key motif this season. Modern denim featuring nappa crops and metallic calfskin sling-back brogues add a new dimension to classic items.