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July 28 2014

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Exclusive: Diesel’s Nicola Formichetti Goes Hell for Leather

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Diesel Campaign

“Diesel is all about rebels,” insisted Nicola Formichetti, the brand’s artistic director and arguably one of the biggest rebels on the block. In fact, he may be second only to Renzo Rosso, Diesel’s founder, who gave Formichetti near-free reign of the house’s image when he hired the designer, stylist, and Internet whiz last year. If you think we’re exaggerating, just have a look at the Tokyo bondage party the pair threw to celebrate the label’s accessories collection last fall. Or consider the fact that Formichetti told us he’s holding his debut Diesel runway show on April 3 (that is, after fashion month) in Venice, just an hour east of the company’s Breganze, Italy, headquarters. “I wanted to do something away from fashion week, and to create our own rules,” Formichetti asserted. “It’s going to be an experience—way different from a fashion show. And it’s going to be really digital—but that’s no surprise.”

Never one for downtime, Formichetti is releasing a new leather-centric #Diesel Tribute capsule ahead of the Venice show. And the twenty-piece clothing and accessories range—a follow-up to November’s denim capsule of the same name—embodies the designer’s iconoclastic outlook. “We are elegant rebels, modern-day rebels, and I think leather sums that up,” said Formichetti of the collection. A nod to Diesel’s archive, the outing comprises a zip-front body-con leather dress; a stud-embellished vest; jeans; tees; and jersey denim bombers, pants, and intimates that ooze all the toughness of leather but offer a little more comfort. The centerpieces, however, are a hand-stitched patchwork leather bomber and matching pants. “I didn’t want to do something super-trendy, and we can’t make it very cheap,” said Formichetti of the collection, which is priced between $120 for a T-shirt and $3,800 for those patched-up pants. “You know, fast fashion is cool and inexpensive, but after a couple of months, it falls apart. I wanted to do something more timeless, something that will last and remain in your wardrobe.”

Diesel Campaign

#Diesel Tribute Leather debuts exclusively here in a campaign by Nick Knight, which he shot entirely on his iPhone. “It was all about apps and doing everything instantly on set,” said Formichetti, who famously launched his reign at Diesel with a robust social media initiative. As for the cast, Formichetti tapped the same breed of staunch individual that he has featured in previous advertising efforts. (His first accessories campaign was fronted by stripper-turned-rapper Brooke Candy, and Diesel’s recent We Are Connected ads starred Jillian Mercado—a striking 26-year-old blogger with muscular dystrophy—and her wheelchair.) “They’re people we found on Tumblr—some friends, friends of friends, models, you know, a good mix,” said Formichetti when quizzed on his fresh faces. “Pulling these unsung heroes is [important], and I think it’s so cool that Diesel’s brave enough to support them because, you know, the fashion world is crazy.”

Diesel Campaign

As for the forthcoming Fall ’14 collection, Formichetti hinted that it’s going to be a blend of the house’s signature denim and leather, but on steroids. “I’m doing an über version of my last two capsules for the show,” he said over the yelping of his two dogs, Tank and Bambi. The pups had just gotten back from a trip to L.A., where they were, as Formichetti put it, “retreating for the winter.” Once the barking stopped, he added, “Fall is all about going back to the basics—something that you would want to wear every day. But, of course, it’s me, so you’re going to get a bit of fantasy there, too.”

The #Diesel Tribute Leather Collection will be available at Diesel stores worldwide from February 1.

Photos: Nick Knight

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