FrontRunners: Neutral Corner
When Ermenegildo Zegna acquired Agnona (310.770.5166, www.agnona.com) in 1999, many assumed the men’s clothing giant would use the small Italian textile mill to establish a foundation in the women’s fashion business. After all, the tiny weaver—known for its use of natural-colored cashmere, camel hair, vicuña, and alpaca cloth—has been supplying couturiers Balenciaga, Yves Saint Laurent, and Christian Dior since the 1950s. Instead, Zegna has used its vast financial resources and production expertise to relaunch the brand under its original label, which is pronounced "An-yo-na." Although Agnona’s small men’s collection has been discontinued for the time being, this past summer, its first signature boutique in the United States opened at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills with an expanded collection of women’s ready-to-wear as well as $1,800 cashmere throws and $150 unisex cashmere slippers. Well-known for their environmental sensitivity, the Zegnas have also held fast to Agnona founder Francesco Ilorini’s personal preference for natural colors: white, beige, tan, and gray. All are prominent in the new collection, as well as in architect Andrea Zegna’s prototypical store design, which incorporates organic elements such as clear crystal and Sicilian volcanic stone.