It's been less than a year since Mauro Ravizza Krieger took the helm at Pal Zileri, where he was charged with rejuvenating the brand that was, though still much loved by its loyal clientele, beginning to stagnate.
Two runway shows in Milan later, the brand has reopened its new look store on London's New Bond Street and embarked upon a new initiative, Avant Craft, which is as much a drive to support the works of up-and-coming international artists as it is a testament to Ravizza Krieger's creative philosophy.
Timed to coincide with Frieze London, British multimedia artist Amba Sayal-Bennett was commissioned to create three site-specific works for the store, which is done out in shades of grey with lots of brushed concrete and shiny metal fixtures.
Sayal-Bennett is known for her illustrative take on everyday items, which she translates into sculptural installations. For one piece, Brack and Brine, she draped sheets of transparent paper printed with graphic drawings of humdrum items like an iron's base or a lightbulb over the store's existing steel display stands.
For another, also on the ground floor, called Parse, she used an old school overhead projector to project a drawing on a piece of acetate that had been stuck with masking tape to the projector.
'Avant Craft is our philosophy because it was based on the mission of the company to evolve into the future while staying true to craftsmanship,' explains Krieger. 'We are here with these new pieces of art, with a new energy and a new collection. We start from the past but we are looking forward.'
Ravizza Kreiger said that the invitation to overhaul Pal Zileri, which was bought by an investment vehicle backed by a private investor group from Qatar last year, wasn't one he immediately wanted to accept. 'I thought, at first, the brand wasn't so interesting. The company was really classic, conservative Italian company,' he said. 'But then I looked at the potential and I got that it was a big challenge and a great opportunity. For the collection, we are always [focusing] on the attitude of a new consumer. It is a big challenge to bring together the old and new.'
He has edited down the brand's tailoring offering from 15 different fits to just three: conservative, contemporary and fashion, with a focus on a narrower silhouette. 'The reaction has been really quite good. We know we're in a conservative market but we saw that [our regular customers] started to immediately adopt the contemporary fit. I am happy with that.'
But the fight's not over. 'I guess we need about two or three more seasons before people will understand what we're trying to do.'