Pilati, who arrived at Zegna from Yves Saint Laurent, inventively fit contrasting scrunchy, crumpled cuffs, at times suggestive of armbands, on tailored jackets, coats and fine sweaters. In another twist, shirt cuffs were folded over elbow-length sleeves on finely knit sweaters, layered again with a longer scrunched-up sleeve.
But if there was a roll-up-your-sleeves ethic to the designs, the industry they suggest is without toil: The summer 2014 collection presented on the first day of Milan Fashion Week is for the man whose productivity is not at the expense of his composure.
Pilati visually took the audience inside the fashion machinery for his runway show. Screens in the oval theatre projected a video of the interior workings of machinery that produces reams of fine fabric, which in due time is transformed into meticulously constructed, tailored and chromatic looks.
Those looks paraded around a circular runway, a cog in the system. A piano composition, inspired by the machinations, overlapped with techno music, integrating art, industry and fashion.
"When I went to visit the factory in Trivero for the first time, I took photos of the machinery and looms, and then looking at them again I realized how much they were visually fascinating, and how the sounds were like contemporary music," said Pilati.
The collection was full of rich detail. Voluminous overcoats were worn over suits, while more fitted coats were cinched at the waist.
Pilati tucked well-pressed silken scarves inside collars for some tie-less looks; in another flourish, a wrap or towel, held in the hand might trail the floor.
For more casual moments, there were shorts, some with the appearance of silk boxers peeking out. A jacket like a waffle robe in patchwork shades called for a wind-swept northern European beach. And there was a complement of dark suits for more formal moments.
Colours were soothingly chromatic, from sand beige to grey to a delicate light blue to Bordeaux.