Riccardo Chiacchio: "For the first time, I feel pride and self-acceptance in everything that I do"

To celebrate Calvin Klein’s Pride collection, we speak to pioneering young queer artists across Europe. Next, Milan-based stylist and art director Riccardo Chiacchio tells us how 2020’s been a turning for his self-acceptance. 

by Created with Calvin Klein
30 November 2020, 8:01pm

Over the course of this year, we’ve all experienced moments when it’s been tough to find cause for celebration -- and for members of queer communities especially, 2020 hasn’t exactly been one big parade. Still, though coming together in the flesh to celebrate our identities and communities may have off the cards this year, queer folks around the world have demonstrated inspiring dynamism and resilience. We’ve proven that queer pride lives long beyond the confines of a single Pride parade or month -- it’s something we each carry within us, every day of every year. 

To celebrate the joy of self-expression and the full spectrum of LGBTQIA+ identities, Calvin Klein launched #PROUDINMYCALVINS, inviting nine trailblazing queer individuals from across the globe to express their most authentic selves in a series of videos and stills. Over the course of this year, Calvin Klein has also teamed up with global queer community leaders to celebrate themes of love, family, coming out allyship and identity -- they’ve also released a Pride collection to boot, available all year round. Eager to keep the party going, i-D enlisted five emerging LGBTQIA+ artists to discuss what pride means to them, the communities their part of, what makes queer life in the cities they live in so exciting, and the changes they want to see made in the ongoing fight for queer equality. Today, we speak with Riccardo Chiacchio. Known for a deeply emotional approach to creating fashion imagery, he’s worked with an extensive roster of acclaimed photographers -- Laurence Ellis and Jordan Hemingway among them.


What does pride mean to you?
It's about acknowledging whatever is going on in your life, understanding it and saying with confidence that what you're doing and feeling is right. Whether that’s saying, ‘This look needs to be denim,’ or deciding that you need to break up with someone. And it's about love. When you experience pure love, whether that’s for yourself, for another person, or you’re receiving it, it washes everything clean, which really gives you pride.

What gives you the most pride in what you do? 
Self-acceptance. This year, I entered my first relationship, and I told my sister and my parents about my boyfriend. I would say that pride is really my word of 2020. For the first time, I feel pride and self-acceptance in everything that I do. 


How have fashion and image-making allowed you to express and explore your identity?
I think that everything that I do is to do with my work, it's really my means of expression. When I started working as a creative at 18, and I moved from Naples to London where I lived for five years, my work really inspired my personal life. I experienced a new creative and mental freedom, which immediately translated to my personal life. When I was in Naples, I didn’t really question my sexuality, let alone date guys. When I moved to London, though, everything was so free and open, so it just came to me very naturally to me approach new experiences without prejudices and find myself. Like everyone, I went through a period that I wasn't too proud of -- but now I’m the opposite, I'm extremely proud of who I am and what I do, and that, of course, inspires my work. 


What are the best things about being queer and living in Milan?
It’s very special because so many of us have similar stories; you become brothers and sisters very quickly. Though Milan is in the north of Italy, basically half of the people here moved from the south, which is a lot more religious and conservative. It's much harder for us to be ourselves down there. We all empathise with each others’ situations and we take steps together -- as I was saying, this year I've been in a relationship and then my one of my closest friends also got into one too, and we both told our families at the same time. Also, the gay community in Milan is quite small, we all know each other. There are only three clubs and it's not just people working in fashion. People from different careers and walks of life all hang out in the same spots. And as Italians, it’s really natural to all be very close to each other. It’s really like being part of a big family.

It’s often said that the first Pride was a riot -- half a century on from Stonewall, what do you think we still need to be fighting for?
Italy is a country with very strong culture and traditions. That doesn't mean that we need to delete or cancel them, but we have to slowly integrate ourselves into that and let people know we're here and that newness is OK. It's a matter of slowly becoming a part of mainstream society without shocking people, which is a bit different somewhere like London, which is a big city that's always been known for its rebellious spirit.

Calvin Klein