Nicola Formichetti: #DIESELTRIBUTE

Diesel's Artistic Director talks Instagram, denim and puppies with Clash.

“It’s like coffee or smoking a cigarette, it’s part of our lives,” says Nicola Formichetti of Instagram. “People say that we’re trying to be digital, I’m not. For me it’s just what young people are doing; it’s like having another arm or something, so natural.”

He cements his argument with a validating anecdote; “I saw my friend’s daughters – they’re 12/13 – I saw them talking and they’re like, following each other on Instagram, so their conversation starts there. ‘Oh yeah I love that picture’ or ‘how was that thing?’ they already know about their lives so they can go even deeper.”

Formichetti of course, is the Japanese Italian stylist, designer, creator. Since his appointment as Artistic Director of Diesel earlier this year, both his provocative posters and personal work have gained an even stronger glare.

Lady Gaga, Uniqlo and the French fashion house, MUGLER have each played big roles elsewhere on his CV.

His latest campaign for Diesel – the reason Clash boasts a sore head and has been standing in the Covent Garden store for over an hour – is exclusively digital. The images, shot by SHOWstudio founder Nick Knight on an iPhone, won’t be appearing on any printed pages.

But as Formichetti – whose own Instagram page has over 76,000 followers and whose pet Pomeranians, Tank and Bambi’s page has upward of 5,200 – suggests, we are living in a digital era and these things are to be expected.



“I didn’t have any money, so I couldn’t afford it,” he tells us when asked about his first pair of Diesel denims. “Eventually I got one, but at the beginning it was more about being in the environment. It was so cool, with cool people working there, music; it was like a happening.”

The brand’s DNA is in leather and denim, and the #DIESELTRIBUTE capsule collection is fully supportive, compromised primarily of patched denim, with additional leather collars.

“It’s like, it was cool 35 years ago, and it’s still cool…or I hope,” Formichetti laughs. “It’s such a mystery you know, it’s work wear, it’s easy. I mean denim particularly, if you wear them for a long time they get worn really nicely and it becomes a part of you. Leather has a lot of attitude and it references all the music, so that will never end I think.”

Tattoos are a similar draw for Nicola, adorning numerous ‘real people’ who front his campaigns; step forward Michael Mayren and Rick Genest of #DIESELREBOOT and MUGLER, respectively.

“For me it’s very sexy, it’s part of the young generation and it has that bad boy/bad girl feeling,” he says. “Obviously it’s painful to get it, you have it forever and it’s that confidence. To get a tattoo is like, you believe in it, you believe in something and you stand for it forever. I think it fits right in there with Diesel. “

Pulling up his sleeve he reveals his own ink, a ‘nicopanda’ on his left forearm. “It’s not very strong or sexy but it’s something I believe in and I think it’s cute.”

Next up he fancies a tank and a bambi cartoon, so his pet dogs can be with him when he travels, something that his role requires frequently; both New York and Tokyo were treated to #DIESELTRIBUTE launches in the same week as London.

Of his favourite Diesel campaign he says, “You know when it came out it was a shock. He was talking about culture, taboo, and that really stuck in my mind. For me that was very very special.” The campaign? David LaChapelle’s 1994 image of two sailors kissing, published at the height of the Don’t ask, Don’t tell debate in the US.

While Brooke Candy stars in the new Diesel accessories campaign – and performed at the London launch the night prior to our interview – it’s Clash cover star Lorde who currently fills Nicola’s head. “I’m like, I don’t want to listen to her any more, but I just keep listening to her; it’s so beautiful, so emotional and feels so right, right now.”

And right now he’s focused on returning the brand to “a brand that everybody wants to love and be involved, to be a part of it.”

Nicola, we’d love to. 

Words: Zoe Whitfield


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