Parking in the Meatpacking: Johnny Pigozzi
Published August 3, 2010
Globetrotting French-born business tycoon and art enthusiast Jean “Johnny” Pigozzi has achieved the bon vivant‘s dream: he’s built an empire based almost entirely on his aesthetic whims. It’s a jarringly colorful place with dizzying African art and comically sized yachts. He calls his eccentric playground LimoLand: its primary denizens are aging social lions with exotic art and fashion fetishes. Piggozi turned the LimoLand concept into a franchise in 2007, when he established the official Limoland clothing line, specializing in campy, character-driven dressing. If the clothes bring to mind any pop cultural icon (aside from Pigozzi himself, naturally), it might be Rodney Dangerfield as Al Czervik—the combustible, colorful golfing tycoon 1982’s Caddyshack. Cheery polo shirts (bearing the trademark LimoMan crest), swimming trunks of provocative length in every color of the rainbow, and purple—lots of purple. LimoLand is leisure wear in Technicolor.
As LimoLand launches its flagship store in the visually (and literally) busy Meatpacking District, Pigozzi spoke to Interview about why “flair” is important—and why sharing it is fun.
COLLEEN NIKA: How does your own colorful aesthetic influence how you design? JEAN PIGOZZI: It would be much easier to just make black, brown and beige clothes. But I do not see the world in black and white and beige. I find colors incredibly important. Bringing in a few colors can liven up anyone’s day. I was also influenced by my dear old friend Ettore Sottsass, who loved putting colors in all his furniture and designs and was one of the greatest architects of the 20th century.
NIKA: Why is a sense of humor important in clothing?
PIGOZZI: Sense of humor is important in life, not just in clothing. How boring to live a life in beige. My goal with LimoLand is to create high quality clothing that evokes happiness—colorful, vibrant, and fun!
NIKA: Why is now a good time to open a LimoLand flagship? What drew you to set up shop in the Meatpacking District?
PIGOZZI: LimoLand has seen great success globally. It was time for us to expand and open up a flagship where our customers can experience the full essence of the brand. An economic downturn is a great time to invest in a growing business. Plus, the US and its economy could use an infusion of color, fun, and light hearted joie de vie. I love New York and The Meatpacking District is only getting better and more exciting all the time. With the opening of the High Line and the Standard Hotel, the area is alive with activity and vibrant people. Some of our neighboring brands are great friends.
NIKA: What kind of man is drawn to LimoLand?
PIGOZZI: Men who live to create—musicians, architects, actors, artists, dancers, travelers – and those who admire them and aspire to live like them. My dream customer is a man who is eternally curious and creative. They are a bit, or a lot, out of the box.
NIKA: Why do you think men traditionally fear color?
PIGOZZI: I think “tradition” is in the past–and how can someone really “fear” a color? A man may prefer navy to turquoise, but a self assured man could wear any color and he knows that. It’s a distinction of confidence.
NIKA: Can you talk about the collaborative designs you’ll be offering at the flagship and ecommerce site? What made you decide to bring [accessories designers] Yoshida Porter and K Way into Limoland?
PIGOZZI: I love the functionality and quality of Yoshida Porter and K-Way. I travel constantly and their items have always been some of the best pieces to take on a trip. But, while I admired their work enormously, they didn’t have any fun colors. But, now they do!
NIKA: What music do you listen to when you are “creating?”
PIGOZZI: Mainly African music. I love the strange rhythms–and I hate understanding words of songs when I create.
NIKA: What are some of your most unusual sources of inspiration?
PIGOZZI: Harlem! I have always been interested in fashion, and in my earlier days I was a dandy and had all my clothes made to measure on Savile Row in London. Now, I take a much more casual approach to my wardrobe. Before I started LimoLand, I mainly bought my clothes in Harlem, where I found clothing my size (XXL or XXXL) in fun colors. I still like to go there and see the vibrancy and colors of the neighborhood. I am also very influenced by the colors of my contemporary African and Japanese art collections.
NIKA: Who would you love to give a Limoland makeover?
PIGOZZI: President Obama, Tiger Woods, Jack Nicholson, Warren Buffet, and Bill Gates!