Only the Brave

On Friday I had the privilege of meeting and interviewing (albeit succinctly) Lady Gaga’s talented ex-stylist Nicola Formichetti – he of the controversial meat dress and armadillo shoe fame.  Fresh from a week of promo that included the Diesel Tribute launch party in New York and an event in Japan, it’s fair to say that he was suffering from both jet-lag & fatigue.  However, despite partying the previous eve at the London launch at Hoxton Gallery, he still managed to exude warmth, charm and a near endless enthusiasm for fashion.

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This month sees the launch of his first collection as Creative Director at Diesel. With his Italian-Japanese heritage, love of street-style and propensity for controversy this is a fine fit for the brand.  And with his legion of loyal Twitter fans, Formichetti brings a wealth of new customers to the label that once ruled the denim world.  This first collection made up of 22 pieces, all referenced from Diesel’s previously untapped 35-year archive.  Naturally, aside from some printed tees denim rules, with the stylist-turned-designer applying studding and biker badges to sleeveless jackets, high tops and shirts.

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The Diesel Tribute sleeveless jacket, shorts and tote – Formichetti’s favourite piece in the collection

When I asked about his favourite piece Nicola championed the tote bag. ‘I took the idea from the back of the vest (sleeveless jacket) and replicated it onto the bag so it looks like you’re carrying a jacket. It’s cool. When you see a tote it’s usually a cute pretty thing, very girly, but this is quite tough. It’s unisex, boys can wear it and girls can wear it.’ Indeed the collection is far from girly, channelling more of a rebellious biker chick aesthetic, a theme that is even more evident in the ad campaign, which features self-sourced heavily tattooed and pierced models.

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A few of the campaign images, shot by Nick Knight, and featuring a selection of models that ‘represent the fearless Diesel spirit’

Describing the difference between Diesel and his previous appointment as creative director at fashion house Mugler, he says ‘At Mugler we had two head designers that had a much more important role. With Diesel I’m directing it, but with a great big team. That’s the difference. The Diesel atelier is massive, we have a whole floor dedicated to denim, and scientists working on new treatments all the time.  It’s incredible to work like that. The possibilities are endless.’

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Images of the Diesel Tribute range taken at the in-store event, featuring studding, biker badges and colourful buttons

Formichetti is a champion of new media, saying that ‘young digital bloggers are the future; they’re going to take over the world. I love when new things happen. It’s shifting and we’re changing.’  A fact further supported by the campaign, which was shot entirely on an iPhone by renowned photographer Nick Knight. Formichetti gets very animated when discussing the speedy delivery of the campaign. ‘Sometimes you can do this spontaneous thing (sic), going directly to the consumer, not showing the product to the press 6 months before. It’s super quick, going straight to the digital world. And it’s exciting’ he says, before adding of the industry’s predisposition to work 6 months ahead. ‘I think if you keep trying we’ll get to a point where we can do something bigger and new for the fashion system. I don’t know what’s happening anymore, what season or what month we’re in. This has to change, don’t you think?

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Printed tees and digital moving images

Whilst this is an idea that has also been explored by Burberry (customers can order the next season Prorsum collection straight from the catwalk), I can’t see the whole of the fashion industry following suit.  Despite the instant appeal of new media, the major monthly titles as well as the dominant department stores need the 6 month lead time to place orders and create editorial content in time for the fashion season.  With Diesel, where seasons are less crucial, the concept is more of a reality.  And with his endless energy and thousands of Formichetti fans, this is just what Diesel needs to return to its position as pioneer of the denim industry.

Diesel Tribute is available now at selected stores. For more info head to www.diesel.com. The campaign (shot by Nick Knight) can be viewed on specific social media platforms including Facebook and Instagram, as well as digital installations in key stores.

Main image- the Diesel Tribute collection as it appears at the Covent Garden store.

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