8 posts tagged "Brooke Candy"
Trieste, an Italian town just outside of Venice, is charmingly stuck in another era. Ancient Roman relics are just minutes away (by boat, of course) from Castello di Miramare, a 19th-century castle built specifically so Empress Sissi of Austria could have her numerous nervous breakdowns in decadent seclusion. The cobblestone streets are narrow. The bars close at midnight. And the Internet connection is virtually nonexistent. So it’s ironic, perhaps, that this old-fashioned locale is home to International Talent Support, one of the world’s foremost fashion competitions known for championing the new. Founded by Barbara Franchin—a Trieste native—in 2001, the competition has given such designers as Michael van der Ham, Peter Pilotto, Astrid Andersen, Aitor Throup, and Heaven Tanudiredja their starts. Franchin has helped other victors find work placement at mega houses including Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood, Givenchy, Lanvin, Chloé, Kenzo, and many, many more.
According to Franchin, who travels to fashion schools all over the globe to scout new talent, more than 1,200 jewelry, accessories, and fashion designers applied for the 2014 competition. This past weekend, eleven finalists in each category (save accessories, which had ten) presented their collections to esteemed juries. I sat in on the fashion section, and I can tell you, it was a pretty nerve-racking experience for these young designers, all of whom were just out of fashion school (albeit esteemed ones like the Royal College of Art and Central Saint Martins). But considering this year’s judges, I couldn’t blame them for being anxious. Marni’s Consuelo Castiglioni, Susie Bubble, and Diesel’s Nicola Formichetti were all on the panel, surveying the collections and asking questions. And considering Diesel is the main sponsor of ITS, Formichetti’s presence was no doubt particularly intimidating, despite the designer’s signature laid-back demeanor.
“This competition is very important to me because we want to discover talents when they are virgins,” explained Renzo Rosso, Diesel’s founder, who is deeply invested in ITS. “We screen eighty countries and one hundred universities. [The designers] are just out of school—they’re pure, and every year we hire one or two [finalists] at Diesel. They can really come in and help grow the brand, and it’s very important to help open doors for these young people.”
Formichetti offered that he liked the competitors who really went for it, like Yasuto Kimura (above, left), whose backpack-jacket hybrids, futuristic suiting, and matching surgical masks were inspired by Japanese businessmen jammed into commuter trains. He ended up taking the SHOWstudio Award. Also on Formichetti’s radar was Ukrainian Central Saint Martins graduate Natalija Mencej. Her extremely detailed and sternly cut menswear range (above, right) was based around, as she told it, “Japanese truckers who trick out their trucks.” Mencej earned the Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana Award. “I want to see something bonkers,” Formichetti told me. “I don’t want to see something commercial—I want to see inside their world.”
Later that day, Formichetti got his wish. The theme behind the runway show, set in a building by the sea, was “Lucid Dreaming.” And as the designers sent their collections down the runway, it was as if all their “bonkers” dreams had come to life. Katherine Roberts-Wood took the Fashion Collection of the Year prize for her womenswear, which looked like an armadillo had been crossbred with a rose and a Slinky. And I mean that in the best way possible. It was mind-boggling how well she controlled her silhouettes despite the countless laser-cut petals of bonded neoprene that made up her wares. “It started off with the obsessive idea of repetition,” she told me after the show. “Each piece is linked together without stitching.” Her win, which came with 15,000 euros and the chance to present at next year’s competition, was much deserved. The 28-year-old Royal College of Art graduate hopes to launch her own line with the spoils.
The Fashion Special Prize went to Icelandic designer Anita Hirlekar for her vibrant, maniacally embroidered womenswear offering (left). “The starting point for me was actually the reverse side of an embroidered sample I found,” said the Central Saint Martins grad after the win. “It was very organic, rather than really ‘perfect,’ so I kind of wanted to explore that and make a painting of sorts.” It took her four days to make each outfit. The stitching sometimes made her fingers bleed. Her efforts earned her 5,000 euros.
And then, of course, there was the Diesel prize. Each fashion competitor was asked to create a single denim look, and the designer behind the best ensemble would be awarded 20,000 euro, as well as a six-month internship at Diesel. This year, that lucky victor was Zoe Walters, a 27-year-old Royal College of Art grad who caught the judges’ attention with her sculptural bonded denim jacket and oversize deep blue denim shirtdress (top. I’m not a denim fan, per se, but I wanted this outfit on my body immediately. “I want to get some really solid experience with Diesel,” said Walters about her next step. “Then we’ll see what happens.”
But the formal awardees won’t be the only winners in this competition. Formichetti plans to pull some of the accessory finalists’ work for Brooke Candy‘s upcoming video. Expect to see ceramic limbs, extreme black ballerina shoes, and cascading crystal baubles in Candy’s next flick. I’d imagine that, for many an emerging designer, that’s a dream in and of itself.
“Finally, we can tell the world!” laughed Nicola Formichetti over the phone this morning. What’s the big news? That he and Diesel dressed Beyoncé, Jay Z, and a bevy of backup dancers for the just-launched On the Run tour, of course. “I haven’t done a tour since Gaga, and that was a couple of years ago, so this is really exciting. Beyoncé just brings it out there. She brings it to another level.”
It all began after Formichetti’s blowout debut runway show for Diesel, which marched down the catwalk in Venice last April. Queen Bey liked what she saw, and asked Formichetti to make her five custom Fall ’14-inspired ensembles for the Bonnie & Clyde-themed tour. But dressing Beyoncé, Formichetti admits, isn’t quite the same as costuming more sartorially eccentric stars like Mme. Gaga or his latest project, Brooke Candy. “With Beyoncé, we wanted to do something real,” explained the designer. “She’s a real woman, a real bombshell, and it was all about showcasing this strong, fierce woman. So we focused on her body, and used super-stretchy denim for [last night's] jumpsuit, which just makes her tits and her ass look even more amazing than they already do.” Indeed, the abovementioned jumpsuit, featuring frayed edges and chain and stud embellishments, does just that. A sketch of the look debuts exclusively here. According to Formichetti, the singer will rotate various Diesel ensembles throughout the four-month tour.
Formichetti, who first worked with Bey when she costarred in Lady Gaga’s “Telephone” video back in 2010, said that she and her team were very hands-on. Before the intense week of final fittings, the pop star browsed through the collection with Formichetti and was particularly drawn to a denim, flame-embroidered jacket. “It was basically a direct copy of a piece from the archive, and she was like, ‘OMG! I wore something like this in the nineties for Destiny’s Child!’” he said. As for the musician’s epic style evolution, he offered, “I think she’s just refined her whole look. And I love that she can do both: She can be a cool street girl or a goddess and she’s still Beyoncé.”
Formichetti told us that working with Mrs. Carter was not only a personal coup, but a big moment for Diesel, too. “We’re up onstage next to Tom Ford, Givenchy, and Versace—they’re the other brands that worked on the show—and as a non-high-fashion brand, that’s very exciting. It shows that our work is at that level. Even Beyoncé, when she was picking out pieces she wanted from the Fall collection, was saying, ‘Diesel’s back!’ It was great,” recalled the designer, later hinting that more collaborations might be in his and Beyoncé’s future.
But it’s not just Bey, Jay, and their onstage crew that Formichetti is dressing—Blue Ivy is getting in on the action, too. “We’re making her a little bomber jacket with ‘Blue Ivy’ written on the back.” Apparently, it will match Mom’s Diesel Fall ’14 leather topper, which she had embroidered with the word Texas—her home state.
“It’s about the future, but in order to move forward, you have to look back,” said Nicola Formichetti of his Pre-Fall Nick Knight-lensed Diesel campaign, the first he’s released for a full Formichetti-designed Diesel ready-to-wear collection. Starring Formichetti’s friend, model Kiko Mizuhara, and a diverse cast of other beautiful faces, the images are set against a backdrop comprising glitched scans of ripped male bodies rendered in the style of the great masters. The models pose stoically (and sexily) in Diesel’s black leather wares. “I wanted to portray a new community, a new kind of tribe,” Formichetti said of the photographs, which debut exclusively here. “We were looking at the Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo, Picasso, and Avedon. These images are neo-neo-classical. They’re an homage to the digital world juxtaposed with the classics.”
The campaign is representative of Formichetti’s broader vision for and influence on Diesel. “When he was creating the gods, Michelangelo used street kids as models, and he would elevate them in a way,” explained Formichetti. One might say the same about the designer, who’s embraced the Internet’s misfit stars and plastered them across billboards and magazine pages via his past Diesel ads. Just look at what he’s done for stripper-turned-rapper Brooke Candy. Thanks to Formichetti’s styling skills, she’s now decked in a bevy of designer—albeit often racy—duds. (Side note: He’s currently working on the star’s next music video, a follow-up to their last collaboration, “Opulence.”)
“Every day, digital becomes more important,” Formichetti insisted when asked about his obsession with all things online. “Today I was telling my graphic designer to re-crop the advertisements in Instagram format so we can put a logo on that. To say that to a graphic designer of a brand, it’s really like, wow, the world is changing! And I love it.”
More of Formichetti’s neo-neo-classical tale will be revealed in the main collection campaign, set to debut later this summer. But in the meantime, he’s just excited that his first complete collection will at long last be available. “The clothes are going to be in stores this week, and finally it feels like after being at Diesel for a whole year, and having the show in Venice in April, and designing two capsule collections, the Diesel Reboot is complete. We have a foundation. And to me, these images represent the new Diesel.”
“I own everything, baby!” sang the oft foul-mouthed stripper-turned-rapper Brooke Candy before wrapping up a phone interview last week. She wasn’t referencing any kind of newfound wealth—after signing with RCA Records in February, the formerly homeless L.A.-based artist is just finding her footing in the pop music biz. Rather, her proclamation was a line from her new song and music video, “Opulence,” which dropped at a Diesel-sponsored party in New York last night.
The flick is lensed by Steven Klein and styled by Nicola Formichetti, who, after discovering Candy online in Grimes’ “Genesis” video, has taken the starlet under his wing. In October, he cast her as the face of his Diesel accessories campaign and flew her to Tokyo, where, flanked by gyrating exotic dancers, she performed at a bondage-themed sex party to fete the collection. “I wasn’t really looking for anybody. I wanted to just focus on Diesel,” admitted Formichetti, Diesel’s artistic director and former stylist to Lady Gaga. “But when I saw her, I couldn’t resist.”
Before teaming with Formichetti, Candy, 25, already had a sufficiently severe look, one that involved braids down to her calves, velvet bikinis, platform sneakers, and more bare skin than Miley—a deliberate and independent choice, according to Candy, that she believes expresses feminist power. “I have an agenda, and I’m not selling anything,” she said of her penchant for nudity and raunchy dance moves, adding that not all pop stars fall into the same category. “I don’t want to say any names, but there’s a difference between being knowledgeable about what you’re doing, and doing it because someone is behind you, telling you to do it. You don’t have to be the most genius fucking person in the world to tell when a woman taking her clothes off is authentic, and when it’s sad.”
“I see her as a blank canvas, and I just want to elevate her,” said Formichetti. “I love who she is. She’s very involved, and I don’t want her to suddenly become a new person.” Indeed, Candy has maintained her raw, sometimes shocking appearance. But these days, the braids have been traded for finger waves, the teeny bikinis for custom Olima Atelier bustiers.
“She’s queen of the freaks!” laughed Formichetti, when asked about the video wardrobe, which includes upwards of twenty-five ensembles, among them a Gareth Pugh trenchcoat, bespoke Alexis Bittar jeweled masks, and leather Diesel duds covered in plastic gems that the stylist found in Chinatown.
The “freak” element, as well as the overall concept of the film—which traces Candy’s evolution from a skinhead exacting revenge on a man who’s just robbed her, to a glammed-out queen of the night who becomes a gluttonous, glitter-covered monster—both stem from Candy’s primary inspiration, Paris Is Burning, the cult documentary about gay voguers in the 1980s. “That movie changed my perspective on everything,” raved Candy. “And I really related to this one moment when they’re describing opulence. Basically, the idea is that you show off so much confidence and poise that you create the impression that you’re the wealthiest, most intelligent, powerful person on the planet, and you own everything. And when those people were performing at the balls in their costumes, they were safe,” said the singer, noting that she feels most at home in underground gay clubs. In fact, the video’s theme was conceived with Formichetti at a drag bar in Tokyo, and was shot in a Bushwick warehouse filled with Candy’s friends, namely a transgender woman, a gaggle of drag queens, and her loyal posse of gay men. “We’re all freaks and outcasts, and this was meant to empower them.”
Though she asserts she “can’t predict the future,” Candy doesn’t foresee herself turning into the materialistic creature depicted in the video—mainly, she says, because she hasn’t forgotten where she came from. “I literally lived on the street and was wearing outfits made of paper because that’s all I could afford,” said Candy. (Side note: She actually grew up in the L.A. suburbs but fell on hard times after her mother and father—the CEO of Hustler Casinos—didn’t quite understand her artistic pursuits.) With that in mind, she and Formichetti aimed to champion other outré up-and-coming talents, like Nasir Mazhar, Charlie Le Mindu, and Natasha Morgan, by incorporating their designs in the film.
Even so, Candy has undergone quite the transformation—aesthetic and otherwise—since she set out to become a star. Best known for songs like “I Wanna Fuck Right Now,” the artist has toned down her lyrics in “Opulence,” the first single she’s released under RCA. “I worked with Sia and she felt the vibration I was putting out, but she said to me, ‘You have two paths you can follow. You can keep doing what you’re doing, or you can tone it down and go that much further.’ I don’t really let anything cloud my head, but I thought, If that’s going to help me speak to a broader audience, that’s fine. I’ll just ramp up my imagery.” And ramp it up she did—in one scene, Candy rolls around on the screen covered in blood, touching herself, while wearing lingerie, three crowns, and a fur coat gifted to her by Formichetti.
So did she sell out? “No. The lyrics were my decision. It’s a smarter way to go. And it’s just a different vehicle.” It’s a vehicle that Formichetti supports. “I like that I can sing along with it now,” he said. “And we need more freaky people in the mainstream.” No doubt, Candy is pushing her way into pop culture—she has another Diesel campaign in the works, and she’ll be starting a small tour this May. Naturally, Formichetti will be making the costumes. But is pop culture ready for Candy? “I think so,” said Formichetti. “I hope so. She’s in between edgy and crazy and pop, and that is where the magic happens.”
“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 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.”
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.