The creative director of Pal Zileri, Rocco Iannone, has been dreaming up a new direction for menswear for quite some time. He spent over a decade at Giorgio Armani before joining Pal Zileri to remedy the absence of romantic details in menswear. For Fall/Winter 2018, his first collection for the house, there were functional bags, feather lapel pins, long corduroy coats, and many pink items. Pink—a hue he’s using to break down the genderization of color—continued as a thread all the way to Milan, where the new boutique boasts a striking pink staircase.
Whitewall spoke with Iannone about the impact art has on his life and how Veneto inspires his everyday work.
WHITEWALL: Your rst collection for Pal Zileri, Fall/Winter 2018, was presented at Men’s Milan Fashion Week in January. What did you want it to say?
ROCCO IANNONE: I wanted to send a very clear message—to convey the new aesthetic I am bringing to the maison. It is very varied product-wise, as I intend to offer a complete lifestyle, not just “pieces” that can be worn sporadically.
WW: What are you excited to express in this new lifestyle-focused direction, and with your newest designs?
RI: I am eager to show that romanticism isn’t dead, and that men can be comfortable and elegant at the same time. Nowadays, we perceive wearing a suit as a form of undesirable uniform. It has lost its appeal. I, on the other hand, believe we have all the tools to create a functional wardrobe, without needing to sacrifice form.
WW: Your looks have been less formal, more inclusive of feminine colors, and have a wide generational range. What kind of man is the Pal Zileri man of today?
RI: The Pal Zileri man lives his life with a conscience and a soft attitude. He has a very Italian wardrobe, which is very focused on beauty. He is dandyish and romantic. A gentleman.
WW: You mentioned you wanted to remove the “machismo” of the men’s wardrobe, introducing looser silhouettes, soft materials, and new colors. Why?
RI: Men’s fashion is ever changing, dynamic, and poignant. Men in this day and age are no longer constricted to adhere to a strict dress code. It is a notably flourishing moment for men’s fashion, currently exploring new aesthetic solutions. The man of today is taking a new awareness of himself and loves taking care of his appearance, but also feels the need to be comfortable and versatile. I want to be able to offer freedom and self-expression.
WW: Your new garment bag (with a removable suit bag that wraps around it) was very innovative. Tell us a bit about designing brand-new pieces.
RI: When coming up with a new product, I like to think about being practical, as well as being aesthetically appealing. I enjoy being surrounded by beauty, but if it’s useless it’s no longer valuable to me. This garment bag is perfect for the man on the move who needs to be impeccable without the hassle.
WW: When you renovated the agship store in Milan, you made the stairs pink. It seems pink is an important color for you, and now, the brand. Why?
RI: I love color. Color is an essential element in beauty, nature, art, design. The palette was created by studying Venetian art, the Veneto region’s colors—where Pal Zileri was born. This pink, as well as being part of our palette, was chosen because I feel it can be very masculine color. I don’t like to adhere to gender stereotypes or norms, where colors are preassigned.
WW: What role does art play in your life?
RI: Art is of the utmost importance in my life. It is where I nd inspiration. As Leo Tolstoy said, “Art is the activity by which a person, having experienced an emotion, intentionally transmits it to others.”
WW: Vicenza, where the brand’s artisans are based, is a culturally rich place. You’ve talked about going there a great deal while working in Milan. What do you like about the Veneto region, and the city of Vicenza?
RI: The Veneto region is full of beauty, with extraordinary natural scenery and rich cultural and artistic tradition. It’s a fascinating region, very varied and diverse. It’s home to Andrea Palladio, whose works are found throughout the whole region and are emblematic to Pal Zileri. The Veneto region, to me, is an ongoing source of inspiration for my everyday work.
Vicenza is one of the most beautiful cities from the Veneto region, home to Pal Zileri. It’s a very cosmopolitan city and is mostly known for its architectural masterpieces, such as Teatro Olimpico and the Palladian villas, for instance Villa Valmarana “Ai Nani,” where we shot our Fall/Winter 2018 campaign. It’s the way the architecture mixes with the natural landscape and its colors that makes Vicenza a particularly special city.