(Sept 23): Ermenegildo Zegna’s second ‘Defining Moments’ campaign teams Benjamin Millepied with Robert De Niro

Italian fashion powerhouse Ermenegildo Zegna has introduced the second instalment of its “Defining Moments” campaign. Veteran actor Robert De Niro is back, exuding star power.

The first instalment, released earlier this year, saw De Niro engaged in conversation with up-and-coming thespian McCaul Lombardi. There was a stark contrast bet ween the two in terms of age, fame and, of course, body of work. They found common ground in their Italian background and carried the campaign with style and charm.

For the latest instalment, De Niro has a new partner — dancer-turned choreographer Benjamin Millepied. The choice of Millepied is indeed clever. There is plenty of contrast — as well as similarities — between the two men.

Millepied became well known after the release of the 2009 ballet thriller Black Swan, where he was not only the choreographer but also played a key character. It was through this movie that Millepied met Natalie Portman, who played the starring role. They got married in 2012.

A-lister Portman is by far the more famous of the two — having amassed an impressive portfolio since her debut in Léon: The Professional as a child. However, his achievements in dance are no mean feat.

Millepied shares some similarities with De Niro. Within their own spheres, each has helped further the careers of their colleagues beyond the usual platforms.

Millepied founded the LA Dance Project, which aims to show new works, whereas De Niro is known for co-founding the Tribeca Film Festival in 2002, with the objective of revitalising the neighbourhood hurt by the post 9-11 slump. Since then, thousands of independent films have been screened at the festival and this has helped launch numerous careers.

Both artists share a common love for New York. For De Niro, it is easy to understand why. He was born in this city and many of his iconic films, from Taxi Driver to Goodfellas, are set here. While Millepied was born in Bordeaux, France, he finished his formal training in New York.

“When I first arrived in New York, it was mindblowing. I had never seen so many good dancers all at once. This is where I wanted to be. In this city, you spend your time looking up,” says Millepied in a video that is part of the campaign.

“That’s why New York is great. People come to be recognised for who they are. They come for the freedom to do what they want and realise their dreams,” De Niro responds.

The Zegna campaign brings them to their beloved New York. There are four “stars” fronting it: De Niro, Millepied, the Big Apple and, of course, Zegna’s fall/winter 2017 collection.

For the campaign, the stars wear stylish coats and jackets made using Zegna’s signature wool. The clothes exude an understated elegance, pro ving that Zegna’s strategy for the past century — fine cutting, stylish elegance and comfort — still stands it in good stead.

This article appeared in Issue 798 (Sept 25) of The Edge Singapore.