“Most of them could still work today,” Renzo Rosso said of Diesel’s ads from the last 30 years, which were in turns both groundbreaking and controversial.
Flipping through the book “XXX Years of Diesel Communication,” Rosso said he “relived the emotions” he felt at the time of each campaign. The tome is a compendium of the images that have shaped and reflected the company’s path as it grew into a global lifestyle brand. Well aware of the impact the photos had, Rosso conceded that “when you start down a new road, the first steps are hard and not many people understand you.”
Being misunderstood clearly never worried Rosso, though. Diesel’s ads have included photographs of two sailor men kissing passionately (spring 1995); one urging viewers to drink urine in the “Save Yourself” campaign for fall 2001, and showed an African-American man pinning down at least three Caucasian women — given the number of legs and boots embracing his naked body (fall 2005). “This one was criticized, but I felt I had to do it,” Rosso said simply, shrugging his shoulders.
“Diesel invented a new language to communicate, which was initially not connected to the product,” said Stefania Saviolo, co-director of the Master in Fashion, Experience and Design Management program at Milan’s Bocconi University. “It was a brave move, because they were the first to approach the lifestyle message.”
Diesel focused each campaign on its motto: “For Successful Living,”
“Eventually, clothing and accessories became more central, but Diesel maintained an innovative message, in line with its style,” said Saviolo.
“Diesel is constant in its mood, innovation and creativity,” said Luca Scaini, professor of international communication and marketing at Polimoda Institute in Florence. In reference to the brand’s “Global Warming” campaign by Terry Richardson for spring 2007, where, for example, New York is shown submerged by water, Scaini underscored how Diesel adroitly brings forth the message: “Will Diesel save the world or will it last beyond the world we know? The truth is in the brand: Diesel lives on.” Scaini said the contradiction lies in the fact that the images are “extraordinarily relaxing and pleasing,” in contrast with the message they should be transmitting.
The anniversary book, published by Rizzoli, includes images by photographers such as David LaChapelle, Ellen von Unwerth, Terry Richardson, Finlay McKay and Mert Alas and Marcus Piggot. Although Rosso refrains from electing his favorite campaign, he easily dismisses “The Future” ads for spring 2005 and the reasons afford a glimpse into his modus operandi: “Everyone is dancing on the streets, it’s too complex and busy. I don’t have a feeling for it,” he said.
Most of the campaigns are in color, except for the latest, for fall 2008, shot by John Scarisbrick. “We did colors in the Nineties, when everyone was doing black and white,” Rosso recalled.
There are also a number of previously unpublished photos, such as one portraying members of the Catholic, Jewish and Muslim faiths shot by Henrik Halvarsson for fall 2005 against the backdrop of what appears to be a desert. “It was just too sensitive an issue to tackle,” Rosso admitted.
And while some observers might disagree, given the outcry Diesel’s ads have generated over the years, Rosso said he draws the line at bad taste. “Irony yes, but never bad taste.”
That said, showing his inclination for controversy hasn’t waned, Rosso has just given the green light to a video clip he himself describes as “borderline,” which is currently airing on the company’s Web site. Playing on the triple X pun, the video is a revisited version of various porn clips, where colorful cartoon characters are superimposed on the original images. The result? One million viewers on the first day, according to Diesel.
Rosso, who invests 7 percent of the company’s sales in advertising and communication, has recently explored other media, for example launching Diesel’s innerwear line last year with a five-day reality show on the Internet held in a hotel room in Madrid. “The Internet allows a more direct dialogue with our customers,” said Rosso.
The company’s anniversary party will also be broadcast live on the site. Last year, Diesel also experimented with a runway show at Pitti Uomo, Florence’s international men’s wear exhibition, showing holograms on the catwalk rather than real-life models.
Next up? “My dream is to do a soap opera for the Internet, our very own ‘Dallas’ in the Diesel spirit, in a modern and fresh way,” said Rosso.
In yet another fashion show shuffle, @elleryland is moving its show in sync with the Paris couture calendar — though the brand is still keeping one foot on the city’s ready-to-wear schedule. Their runway show in January will coincide with the launch of a new strategy: designing two main collections each year instead of four, which will then be released in four drops. “As we all know, the system needs to change. We need to show sooner to give time back to artisans and designers to do what they do best — create,” said founder Kym Ellery. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @kukukuba)
@maxmara’s classic 101801 coat was the cornerstone of its pre-fall 2018 collection. The design team expanded the traditional double-breasted, kimono-sleeved style into a trapeze coat, lean belted styles and a peacoat and presented them in monochromatic looks – like the camel one pictured here. #wwdfashion #prefall18 (📷: George Chinsee)
The @cfda has shifted the dates of #NYFW, with Men’s showing on February 5 through February 7, and Women’s will directly follow, running from February 8 through 14. The preliminary schedule will be released on the CFDA’s web site in the next few days, but Mark Beckham, VP of marketing for the CFDA, revealed that @rafsimons will be back to close the men’s-specific part of the week with a show on February 7 #wwdfashion (📷: Kelly Taub)
@ferragamo is introducing a new space dedicated to the development of women’s and men’s leather good samples. The laboratory, which is created eco-friendly materials and designed to reduce the environmental impact of the manufacturing processes, will allow the company to expand its accessories offering through traditional artisanal approaches. #wwdfashion (📷: @aitorrosasphoto)
How does a “regular, degular, schmegular” girl from the Bronx, N.Y., become a Grammy-nominated artist with a certified platinum record in less than a year? Call it the @iamcardib come up. The 25-year-old has become a musical sensation, and the fashion world is taking note. “If I could describe her style I would say drama. She’s really into the dramatics,” says Cardi B’s stylist @kollincarter. See how Carter styles her bold and out there looks with the link in bio. #wwdfashion
“There is no formula. There is no guideline. I can watch Ted Talks all day, but there is no one who can advise me on exactly what it is I should be doing,” said @ronniefieg, CEO of @kith, in an interview with WWD’s @ariahughes at the brand’s new SoHo office in Manhattan. Head to WWD.com to see how Fieg went from hanging out in shoe stockrooms at 13 to building his own business. #wwdfashion (📷: @weston.wells)
@fearofgod and @maxfieldla have teamed up on a pop-up installation. The store, located in the gallery space across from Maxfield’s Melrose Ave location, is the site of the brand’s House of God pop-up in which Fear of God founder @jerrylorenzo has created a church-inspired installation. A dozen vintage church pews sit in front of an LED screen playing 90s gospel singers in an effort to re-create an environment akin to a Southern Baptist Church, Lorenzo explained. Read more about the pop-up on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: Jennifer Johnson)
Known for his sleek, sophisticated American glamour, Norman Norell is the subject of an upcoming exhibition at @fitnyc. “Norell: Dean of American Fashion,” which runs from February 9 through April 14, will feature approximately 100 ensembles and accessories. His best work is exemplified by the designer’s glittering “mermaid” gowns frosted with thousands of hand-sewn sequins – like the one pictured. (📷: William Helburn) #wwdfashion
For pre-fall 2018, @balmain didn’t let go of the glitz. A crystal embroidered baseball jacket priced at around $40,000 hangs in the “couture” section of the brand’s first men’s pre-collection. Sporting the words “Balmain Army” across the back, the item took around two months to make. “When it was completed, it was like Christmas, it was like, ‘It’s done, it’s exactly what I wanted,’” said Balmain’s creative director @olivier_rousteing during a tour of the collection in a Paris showroom on Monday. #wwdfashion