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Z Zegna Show: One Hot Ticket For Fashion Week

From Rapper L.L. Cool JJ to Saks CEO Steve Sadove to Jack Mitchell of the family-run Mitchell/Richards retailer-to-the-CEO-crowd stores and Gildo Zegna himself....the front rows at the Z Zegna show encapsulated the mix of sensibilities behind the younger Zegna house. In its second New York runway appearance (I covered the first one at Fashion week last year), the Z Zegna show was once again a hot ticket.

The front row looked like a GQ ad of male retailers and stylists all done up in their best Zegna shirts and suits. L.L. Cool J stood out among them in his sleeveless black tshirt, baseball cap and diamond stud earrings. The rapper is becoming a mainstay at fashion events...he was out in Las Vegas at the MAGIC Marketplace conference representing his Todd Smith fashion line (his original name is James Todd Smith.) Anyhow, LL seemed to be searching for inspiration at the Z Zegna show.

Alessandro Sartori, who designs the collection, sent a lineup of male models sporting pale blue, linen colored and light gray outfits. Many of the pieces were paired with pocket-heavy backpacks which leant a sort of urban schoolboy flavor to the collection. While the classic Zegna suit was referenced throughout with fitted jackets, the bottoms couldn't have been more different from the first Z Zegna line.

The debut at the Cunard building last fashion week had waspwaisted male models wearing fitted pants with tapered ankles. This season, there were a smattering of skinny fit trousers but many loose fitting canvas and even linen shorts. Accessories like explorer boots and desert masks gave an avant garde feel to the collection which finds fans with European and Asian men. Last year CEO Gildo Zegna told me that the company uses New York as a launchpad for Asia since so many in the emerging markets look to the U.S. for fashion cues.

Zegna is one of the few (the only, according to CEO Gildo Zegna) luxury brands that is completely vertically integrated. They own their own fabric manufacturers and create their own products, etc. Since Zegna is private, it doesn't have to disclose the details of its financials so it is hard to gauge just how well the line has done in its first year of sales. Before the show, Gildo Zegna said to me that it takes a awhile for momentum to build behind a line. I take that to mean that sales aren't yet where he'd like them to be.

Still judging from the turnout and the dual team of Saks' CEO Sadove and Chief Merchandising Officer Ron Frasch, Zegna is still getting support from the retailers who sell the company's clothing.

Questions? Comments? retaildetail@cnbc.com