Six months after his last Los Angeles visit to launch Palm Angels at Saks Fifth Avenue, Francesco Ragazzi is back in town, this time to get to know celebrity stylists. The Italian creative, who also directs all art and image for Moncler, has set up shop at the Hotel Bel-Air to raise awareness of his growing fashion line among the celebrity crowd. He already counts Pharrell Williams and A$AP Rocky as friends and fans, but there’s more work to do.
“When I design I think a lot of the celebrities wearing my clothes,” he said. “They may be less commercial pieces, but one amazing jacket can make the look, for example. That’s exactly where I want to be, on stage, designing for them.” In his suite, he had set up pieces from the last few collections to give stylists a taste of the brand — from colorful track suits to T-shirts and khakis printed with California-inspired graphics. This was Ragazzi’s first such trip, and he says he plans to do it every season.
His unisex line is also beginning to find a following among women (singer Kehlani’s stylist was pulling pieces for her performance on Thursday) who like the oversize boyfriend look and he says he’d love to launch a women’s line one day. “Our design team is growing and for sure what I do and the embellishments we use in men’s could translate into a proper women’s collection,” he said, noting his line will always be “normal” clothes, but future collections will explore new silhouettes and proportions. (His second show during Men’s Week in Paris was well-received, and he’s planning to show again there in January.)
It was during one of his first trips to Los Angeles several years ago that Ragazzi became enamored with the southern California skate culture and put together a photo book that went on to inspire the Palm Angeles line. “The line is about my perspective, as an outsider, of Los Angeles. It’s an Italian reinterpretation. When you live in a place all the time, you don’t notice the same things that visitors do, like the palm trees. I even find inspiration in normal life, like shopping at Wal-Mart and Costco.”
His own customers have higher-end shopping tastes; the line sells in Saks, Neiman Marcus, The Webster, Patron of the New, Hirshleifers, Jeffrey and will be in Maxfield next season. Palm Angels also wholesales internationally in Colette, Selfridge’s, Dover Street Market, Barneys New York and Lane Crawford.
Ragazzi said he’s “not jealous” when it comes to his customers wearing other brands. “Wearing one designer head to toe is not modern, to be honest. I’m a consumer as well. I’ll wear Gucci pants, a vintage T-shirt and a Palm Angels jacket, and you have ‘the look.'”