Star-studded Zegna bash fetes new collection, ad campaign

Gerard Butler, Jeremy Renner and Edward Norton were just a few of the stars who turned out to a cocktail party celebrating Ermenegildo Zegna's relocated Rodeo Drive flagship Thursday night, a movable man-packed bash that shifted to a Hollywood design gallery where dinner was served, drinks were poured and the label's spring and summer 2014 advertising campaign -- the first by Stefano Pilati - was unveiled.

Zegna's not new to the neighborhood by any means -- it's been a fixture on Rodeo Drive for nearly two decades. But the Italian luxury brand, famed for its textiles, pulled up stakes earlier this year and moved a few doors north to bigger digs at 337 N. Rodeo Drive, a 5,800-square-foot space that added a third floor, a VIP room, and space to display the hand-made, highest of the high-end Ermenegildo Zegna Couture collection.

Other notables we recognized before the celebrity stew got too thick included Jim Parsons, Brad Goreski, Clark Duke and Joe Jonas, and our favorite visual image of the evening was watching Renner and Butler engage in a spirited round of shoulder-punching badinage near the bar while a ravishing-looking Sharon Stone held court in the center of the room.

But the impressive constellation of stars aside, the man of the hour (well, several hours by the time midnight rolled around) was Stefano Pilati himself. The designer, best known for his role as creative director at YSL -- which he exited in 2012 - has been head of design for Ermenegildo Zegna and creative director of its Agnona women's line since January, but had yet to speak to the press or even make any public appearances on behalf of the brand.

Pilati more than made up for the last 10 months of radio silence as the focal point of the celebrity scrum where he shook hands and posed for countless photos, but also in the video that looped endlessly on the gallery wall throughout the evening as part of the new multimedia ad campaign (called "Eminences Grises,") for the brand.

The video features Pilati in the role of a news anchor for "EZ News," explaining the inspiration for the campaign and talks about the model/actors in it and the photographers who shot the images. All of that aside (we will be getting into the details of the campaign -- and the new couture collection -- in more depth in the not-too-far future), we couldn't help but feel the Pilati-as-news-anchor / spokesman role was as much the point as the details of the spring and summer 2014 season itself.

In the current designer-as-rock-star environment, a brand like Ermenegildo Zegna, which creates its collections in a design team environment, has the potential to get lost in the shuffle. The way Pilati made his very public return to center stage -- walking right into the heart of the Hollywood dream factory and pulling up a chair at the anchor's desk -- is exactly what he -- and the brand -- need.


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