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Milan Design Week 2015: Nicola Formichetti

The megastar creative discusses cultural differences, gender and childhood inspiration

by Paolo Ferrarini
on 29 April 2015
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Fashion editor, creative director, stylist and a mega-star in his own right, Nicola Formichetti embodies contemporary creativity. From collaborating with the likes of Lady Gaga, Diesel and Mugler, Formichetti has a unique and thoughtful approach which can elevate an individual or a brand's appeal beyond belief. At the moment, Formichetti is an ambassador for the Pepsi Challenge, an international competition aimed at redefining the brand's image thanks to the contribution of people from all over the world. In particular, Formichetti has been in charge of the can's redesign, for which the theme is “Live For Now." We met with Formichetti during this year's Milan Design Week to discuss all things creativity.

With an Italian father and a Japanese mother, Formichetti lives and works between Japan, Europe and the US. “I’m a child of the world, so I don’t really resonate within one culture... Being brought up on different continents and kind of balancing the different cultures. And for me, that’s just—that’s how I am," he tells CH.

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“I really resonate with this [Pepsi Challenge] initiative because that’s what I do in my own life. I try to inspire people, and give chances and give jobs and that’s how I do my work. So for me it’s no-brainer because it’s really, really associated with myself,” he says. For the new can design, he had to change his approach.

“Normally when I work, I’m very hands-on. I use materials and fabrics to make shapes and things. I don’t really do a flat design, graphics. So for me, it was a big challenge to create on the surface with a print. I wanted to do something different, something honest—that’s me." Formichetti explains that his inspiration came straight from his childhood. "When I was little I used to do these amoeba-like things on my sketchbooks, without thinking. I kept all of those sketchbooks, so I get inspired from that. [For the can] I incorporated my signature panda character, which is Nicopanda." Nicopanda is Formichetti's clothing label, which is full of super-bold garments that play on gender stereotypes. "I started Nicopanda because it’s a purely unisex brand—boys and girls and everyone in between. I’m always about genderless: mixing boys and girls together. And that’s what I love, I put Gaga in men’s and I made her into a man. I love boys wearing girls clothes. For me, it’s always the mixture of everything."

Formichetti is—like many creatives—also fascinated by the relationship between tradition and innovation. “I love to do something very modernist and futuristic and, of course, that’s everyone’s dream, but for me personally, it’s impossible to create something from nothing. If I have a blank space, for me it’s not very inspiring. I always get inspired through ideas, conversations, products, technology. For me, the only way to go forward is appreciating and understanding the past, great things about the past and mistakes too. It’s the only way."

Submissions for the Pepsi Challenge will be accepted on through 13 May 2015.

Images courtesy of Pepsi

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