What do 32 wool growing properties in Ross and the founder of a woollen mill in Italy have in common?
The answer to that is the Zegna Trophy.
In 1910 Ermenegildo Zegna founded a woollen mill in Trivero, in Italy’s northern alps. From these modest beginnings, he and generations of his family established a world-renowned, luxury fashion empire.
The company became one of the biggest global producers of fine fabrics and developed an unrivalled reputation for the production of fine quality wool suits.
Ermenegildo’s vision was to produce the most beautiful fabrics in the world by sourcing the best quality natural fibres directly from the country of origin. For fine merino wool he looked to Australia and particularly Tasmania.
Ermenegildo Zegna actively promoted improvements in wool production and encouraged the production of superfine merino. In 1963 he instituted an award for the best superfine merino fleece, commissioning this magnificent trophy by Tasmanian sculptor Stephen Walker.
You can find out more about Ermenegildo Zegna and “The Wool That Wins” here.
Renowned Tasmanian sculptor Stephen Walker (1927-2014) was commissioned to produce the Ermenegildo Zegna Perpetual Trophy in 1962. The design features a merino sheep of gold and platinum, evoking the idea of the Gold Fleece. This is set in a representation of a weaving loom, made from silver and a gold platinum alloy and attached to a serpentine base. The trophy is housed in a blackwood cabinet lined with pleated superfine merino wool cloth. The cabinet was made by FH Vallance & Sons, a Hobart furniture maker from 1933 to 1987.
In th 1950s and 60s, after winning several scholarships, Walker spent a period studying sculpture in Europe. This time included working with Henry Moore.
Walker has had a celebrated career and his sculptures feature in many public spaces in Australia, particularly Tasmania.
He is best known for his larger works in bronze, some of which include ‘Heading South’ (1998) and ‘Tidal Pools’ (1970) on the Hobart waterfront, and the ‘Tasman Monument’ (1988) in Salamanca Place as well as ‘Tank Stream Fountain’ (1981) near Circular Quay, Sydney.
Walker received the Advance Australia Award in 1983 for his contribution to the Arts and an Order of Australia in 1985 for services to sculpture.
Along with the display is a beautiful Zegna suit, donated by the Ermenegildo Zegna Group to the Wool Centre in 2013 to celebrate the 50th year of the Zegna Group’s association with Australian wool growers.
The prestigious Ermenegildo Zegna Perpetual Trophy, known locally as “the Zegna”, is awarded for the best superfine merino fleece.
Fleece from a ram, ewe or wether can be submitted for judging and entries can come from anywhere in the world. The fleece must be from one season’s growth and is judged on quality, weight, yield trueness to type, conformity of length and evenness.
The judges are nominated by the Tasmanian Fine Merino Breeders Assocoation and judging takes place at the Midlands Agricultural Society’s Campbell Town Show.
The trophy has been awarded every year from 1963 to 2008. In this 46 year history the trophy has been awarded to properties in the Ross district 32 times. ‘Trefusis’ has been the most successful property with a total of 15 awards, followed by ‘Mount Morriston’ with eight, ‘Mona Vale’ with six, and ‘Verwood’ with three.