WEST HOLLYWOOD — Nearly two years after joining the brand as artistic director, Nicola Formichetti is doing everything possible to live up to his pledge to make Diesel the coolest brand on the planet.
On Friday at H. Lorenzo in West Hollywood, Formichetti marked the launch of his latest Diesel Tribute capsule collection that fuses modern activewear to Diesel’s styles dating from the Nineties. He also brought along a wily digital app called Meerkat to conduct some social media surveillance. Tucking his iPhone into a Diesel-branded case strung around his neck, with the camera facing outward, he surreptitiously filmed the shindig so that his fans on Twitter and Meerkat could watch it live, as if they were wading through the well-wishers — who included stylist Johnny Wujek, actor Sterling Beaumon, model Ellie Stuart Hunter and musician Jesse Boykins 3rd — with him.
“It’s mind-blowing,” said Formichetti, who arrived in Los Angeles after checking out the tech confab in Austin, Tex., at South by Southwest. “There is no barrier between me and you. Like everything I do from the design process to all this traveling, it’s totally real.
“In a way, it’s a little bit sick to broadcast your life and stuff. But it’s kind of fun. Why not? You can always stop it.”
Social media is one way for Formichetti to let consumers “know more about Diesel in a big way” this year, he said. In addition to lining up events and fashion shows, he’s planning to test a new retail concept in New York and Italy. Collaborating with Masamichi Katayama from the Tokyo-based interior design firm Wonderwall, Formichetti is substituting the superstore that emphasizes square footage with a smaller setting that promotes one-on-one customer service.
“We want to be much more boutique-y and something a bit more personal,” he said. “It still has this idea of the original store, [where] the concept came from [the idea] to look like Renzo’s [Rosso, owner of Diesel] house. So I want to still keep that but more in a modern way.”
Yet, as is to be expected of a company steeped in 37 years of making denim, Diesel’s new retail concept includes what Formichetti dubs “a denim temple.”
“We want to be the coolest brand, which is the best in denim,” he said. “We’re really proud of what we do with denim….We’re going to test this new concept this year, and next year we’ll roll it out to the entire world. When people start seeing the new concept of the store, people will get it.”
Formichetti, who once led the creative direction for Lady Gaga, Uniqlo and Mugler, last year signed a contract to work with Diesel cofounder Rosso for at least five more years.
Given how much he likes Los Angeles — in particular, the downtown dance club called Mustache Mondays, barbecues on Venice Beach and the Malibu waves that he documented in a video for his far-flung Instagram followers — it won’t be surprising if he spends the other two weeks out of the month when he’s in not in Italy in Southern California.
“You can still work and be creative [in L.A.]. Here, it is incredible to do photo shoots because you have all the prop houses, nice weather, locations,” he said. “I work in Venice in Italy, so Venice to Venice [Beach] is cute. It’s a little far but….”