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An Afternoon of Fabrics and Cuts at Ermenegildo Zegna

Ermenegildo Zegna Team

When I made the decision to enter the 2019 Gumball 3000 Rally, I promised myself I would try to create something that anyone who had ever dreamed about doing so could share and experience. I wanted to convey not only my excitement at being a part of the world’s most glamorous motorcar rally but also, perhaps more importantly, my journey to the start line in Mykonos.

If you are reading this then the chances are you will have seen that, in January, I travelled to Switzerland to visit HYT – the ‘Hydromechanical Horologists‘ – to view their manufacturing processes before then meeting their CEO and design team to finalise the design of the watch they are going to create for me to wear on the Rally. It’s somewhat trite to say it was an incredible experience but say it I will, and it made me especially proud my sister was able to share the day with me.

Fast-forward a month and, at Ermenegildo Zegna on Bond Street, the second piece of a rather magical jigsaw fell into place. I met with their two top tailoring specialists as well their Northern Europe Client Development Manager to enjoy the most incredible afternoon… choosing the styles and fabrics for what I am going to wear during the Rally.

Firstly, as you might have seen from my post A Race Suit, I had pinpointed the timelessly elegant Steve McQueen as one of my inspirations, with that stimulus split into two; I needed something unique to wear whilst driving and then, for the evenings, outfits befitting of my attendance at the, some might say, infamous Rally parties.

Addressing the latter first, given the dinners and parties each evening during the Rally, I wanted Ermenegildo Zegna to make me a suit that stayed true to my belief of simplicity over complexity, combined with a look that was razor sharp for dinner, but sufficiently comfortable to wear late into the night.

Ermenegildo Zegna Material And Lining

When I arrived, they had already laid out the range of fabrics they thought would be most suitable; lightweight but crease resistant, fine to the touch yet durable. It was amazing to hear their explanations as to which they thought would be the most fit for purpose, no easy task given the brand has over 700,000 to choose from! Ultimately, we decided on a stunning super 200 fabric. Just in case some don’t know what that means, the phrase ‘super #’ equates to the diameter of the wool fibre in micrometers, refers to its fineness and, ultimately, durability.  To compare:

Fineness MeasureDiameter of Fibre in MicrometresProperties
Super 12017.75A very common weight – prioritising durability over finesse.
Super 20013.75A combination of durability and finesse, leaning towards the latter.
Super 25011.25Extremely delicate, fine material.

Given the evenings are likely to be very warm and I, personally, get warm very quickly (!) we agreed the jacket should be only half lined and chose a stunning silk to complement the wool. Then it was a case of picking the buttons; we decided on a set of horn buttons, inlaid with mother of pearl… with a twist. All the while we, as a team, had The Peaked Lapel’s colour scheme in the back of our minds, as well as the amazing watch HYT are making. I’ll reveal the rest when I go back for my first fitting in a few weeks’ time but it’s going to look incredible!

Then we moved on to the race suit. Now the thought process behind this was to try and evoke classic racing style but in a contemporary way. Clearly, given I was going to be driving for long periods in warm weather, the material needed to be comfortable, durable and breathable, so we chose cotton as opposed to linen or silk. Then it was a question of colours; we decided on a design incorporating a number of different, summer inspired hues, all of which complimented The Peaked Lapel’s colour scheme. The design will be finalised with some racing inspired embroidery which, once again, I will reveal as we get closer to the Rally.

The afternoon was a truly awesome experience and I cannot thank the guys enough for their care and professionalism. Just one more thing to add to the journey to the start line in Mykonos and, perhaps more importantly, to tell the grandchildren…

Now it’s just a case of patience until that first fitting. I cannot wait!

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