we spoke to diesel's nicola formichetti about finding flaws and how he made lady gaga’s meat dress
“Gaga’s mom came into the backstage area and was like, ‘what’s Gaga wearing today?’ and I’m like… ‘it’s in the fridge’.”
Image via Instagram
Perfection is boring: That's the message behind Diesel's new collection. Attempting to cut through the homogenous campaigns and tired marketing strategies so many brands employ, Nicola Formichetti, the brand's creative director, is encouraging us to "Go with the Flaw", and celebrate our imperfections. "There's so much competition out there these days that you need to go behind things, and really have a message that people can relate to," said Nicola after showing his autumn/winter 17 collection in Beijing. "Last season I wanted to do something a little bit political, because it was crazy times and as a brand we wanted to stand for something. It was about US and Mexico, but it was also about sexuality and race and divisions. This season I wanted to send a message that was much more internal."
Casting a diverse and unconventional mix of models for a short film celebrating the collection, and partnering with androgynous Chinese popstar Chris Lee to star in the campaign and collaborate on a capsule collection, the look and feel of Diesel's "Go with the Flaw" campaign certainly feels like a departure from the norm. "We came up with this idea of looking at your own flaws, and instead of Facetune-ing it out, you own it. At Diesel, we always look for people with different style; we love differences. But we also wanted to make it a little ironic, they are already too many heavy things in the world right now. We believe in being imperfect, and unique, rather than a perfect, perfect model. Chris Lee always looked different. A bit boyish, very androgynous, very different to typical Chinese celebrities. Wears baggy clothes. I love that."
The campaigns images, shot in Ukraine, are made up predominantly of local, street-cast models, and feel loyal to the brand Renzo Rosso has cultivated so carefully over the last four decades. "I wanted to find a sort of neutral place where that had both nature and an industrial look. We went to Ukraine and flew some models in from Paris, London, etc. but when we did the local casting, half the people you see in the campaign are local Ukrainians. They were so incredible looking. They just looked cool, and perfect for Diesel." But why, after forty years, was now the time to introduce such an explicit message? "As Renzo says, 'yeah now it's a saying, but I've also said it!' Before, it used to be fuck customers, do your thing, then people will follow. Then because of social media, everyone had to start listening to the consumer." Deleting every one of their Instagram posts and starting afresh, Renzo went as far as to call the day of their autumn/winter show "Day Zero" for the brand.
Innovative and unpredictable, it shouldn't really come as a surprise a designer famed for creating some of the most iconic looks and outfits of the past decade, is approaching the brand's identity with such an innovative approach. "I think they're going write on my gravestone 'meat dress'. People are slowly starting to forget about it, I should stop talking about it." The dress that needs no introduction, during his time as Lady Gaga's stylist, Nicola is the renegade stylist behind one of the red carpet's most infamous look. "I did a shoot with her before and we created this meat bikini, and I was chatting with her about what we were going to do for the VMAs. 'Don't ask, don't tell' was happening and she wanted to do something that said 'we're all the same, we're all pieces of meat. She was like, 'let's do a red carpet version of the bikini.' Yes of course it's a big statement, but we didn't know it was going to go that big. My artist friend Frank Fernandes and I got some meat. At first we got some really expensive meat. But the more expensive the meat the most tender, and it kept breaking. So we went and bought really cheap meat. Like rubber! Lady Gaga's mom came into the backstage area in the morning and was like, 'so what's Gaga wearing today?' and I'm like… 'it's in the fridge... Don't worry, I'll accessorise it!'"
So, what became of the dress? "It got turned into beef jerky, which I think is in a museum now!"