The Zegna family does not do things in a small way, and that includes the launch of a new fragrance. On a recent Tuesday evening, Anna Zegna hosted a cocktail-fueled "unveiling" for several hundred of her nearest and dearest New York editors at the company's sleek Fifth Avenue flagship store. Flutes of Champagne, iced vodka drinks and platters of bite-sized Italian delicacies were passed around by waiters so good-looking, they may well have been flown in from Milan; and Anna, whippet-thin and beautifully turned out (in soft trousers and a jacket cut to hug her ribs) moved like an elegant standard-bearer through the crowd.
But the real star of the evening was Zegna Colonia, a bright, fresh addition to Ermenegildo Zegna's fragrance collection. Invoking the masculine glamour and ease of la Dolce Vita, the cologne layers neroli and Sicilian bergamot (small citrus trees cultivated in southern Italy) over hints of iris, on a base of musk, benzoin and cedar. The result is familiar and comfortable, rather than bold or distinctive, and brings to mind another generation's "toilet waters" and the straightforward smells of old-fashioned barber shops. In the company's own words, Colonia is meant to be worn like a linen suit, in that dressed-down summertime realm "between confirmed elegance and affirmed casualness." Tuesday night, with Memorial Day just around the corner, this formula seemed especially appealing: men left the party with a certain swagger, probably realizing they smelled better going out the door than they had coming in. It's a good thing for all concerned that New York City doesn't have a Trevi fountain!