Thursday marked exactly one year to the day since Nicola Formichetti took over at Diesel, and that was all the excuse Renzo Rosso, who founded the brand thirty-five years ago, needed to throw a party. He flew three hundred people from all over the world to Venice. "My town, the most beautiful place in the world," Rosso enthused. After an Aperol-fueled gondola ride down the Grand Canal, only a churl could disagree with him.
But before the party—and the after-party at the Palazzo Grassi, which saw the hardiest revelers reeling into a gray Venetian dawn this morning—there was a huge fashion show to clarify how far Diesel has come under Formichetti…and where it might be going. The denim, the leather, the military/utility looks have been pillars of the Diesel aesthetic for decades. "But what makes it unique," Formichetti said before the show, "is that it's not street, it's not luxury, it's a hybrid, a new breed of alternative-spirited brand." Which kind of describes Formichetti's own work over the years, first as a stylist for magazines, then as a creative director for the likes of Uniqlo, Mugler, and Lady Gaga.
The many facets of Formichetti were all over the Diesel show. "Any crazy idea I come up with, Renzo says, 'You can do better than that,'" the designer said with his insanely infectious giggle. So we saw power pop looks; digital backdrops by longtime collaborator Nick Knight; Brooke Candy on the catwalk; a Tumblr-enabled model casting; clothes customized and glamorized to individual taste; and an overall feeling of inclusiveness, which is something the designer has deliberately cultivated with his social media presence. "There's no difference between the digital and physical world for these kids," Formichetti mused. "They're a new species, indigo children. I find them through Tumblr. They're everywhere, but they don't know about each other till I connect them. That's what I am, a connector."
His connections have inevitably led to some social/political subtexts in his work—LGBT models, a Pussy Riot-inspired finale—but that only makes Formichetti a better match for Rosso, who's no stranger to controversy himself. Last night was more than a mutual admiration society, it was a virtual lovefest. "I want to be just like Renzo when I'm older," said Formichetti. And Rosso is going to make it easy for him. "He said he's giving me the keys to the kingdom for the next thirty-five years," the designer added.