Nicola Formichetti is no stranger to subverting expectation. So just when you think he can’t get any bigger, he figures out a way to go totally global. This fall, fashion’s favorite ubiquitous force will begin yet another new reign: in addition to his ongoing work for Uniqlo, the Haus of Gaga, and V (not to mention additional projects at Studio Formichetti), the multitalented multihyphenate is about to take on another headlining gig... creative director for megabrand Diesel!
“We’ve been talking for about a year,” Formichetti says of Diesel founder Renzo Rosso. “Basically Renzo approached me and said, ‘You remind me of myself when I was younger. I want to hand Diesel to you and I want you to make Diesel relevant for modern-day people.’ Coming from him it was like, Wow!” Though he’d never worked for a denim brand before, Formichetti found the DNA of Diesel an ideal fit with his own progressive point of view. “In the ’90s Diesel was one of the coolest brands. I remember the store in Covent Garden had DJs and hired actors to work there. They were the first high-denim brand, it was a mix of high fashion and street—back then there was no H&M or Uniqlo. Renzo changed the concept of denim from workwear to a fashionable thing to wear.”
“It also had the marketing,” he continues. “Remember the iconic David LaChapelle campaign with two sailors kissing? It was so shocking. Diesel was in bed with MTV at that time. It was kind of a happening.”
For his first order of business, Nicola will work with Rosso on rebranding the entire company, from mass marketing to visual merchandising in the brand’s 750 stores worldwide. “I have so many ideas that I usually do with people and magazines, and now I can bring everything together with the support of a huge global company,” he says. “I can really go global.” In addition to creating crowd-sourced campaigns—a project being planned in partnership with Tumblr—Nicola’s new Diesel will collaborate with big-name designers and at the same time embrace emerging young talent. “It’s this huge global machine,” he says. “Diesel is everywhere, from India to China. I have to go in like a virus and just transform.”