Work Hard, Play Hard: Backstage With Nicola Formichetti

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Published January 20, 2011

 

PHOTOS BY BRUNO ALBIZZATI

It takes a lot to get both the Parisian bourgeois-bohème and Shoreditch aristocracy together in a garage in the Marais in the middle of winter, panting with childlike excitement. But Nicola Formichetti’s first show as creative director for Thierry Mugler was possibly the most awaited event of this fashion week.

Living between London, New York and Tokyo, the man about many towns leads no fewer than 10 lives: he divides his time between being fashion director for Lady Gaga (a demanding job, no doubt), Vogue Hommes Japan and UniQlo. He can now officially add creative director of a revived Theirry Mugler to his crowded resume. While Formichetti is known as a stylist and editor, not a designer, he was hardly a surprise pick for Mugler. Both men favor a radical, alien chic, and aren’t afraid to effect French couture with industrial materials. And Formichetti had already styled Lady Gaga in Mugler costumes in several of her videos.

We met Formichetti after the show and talked superhuman, rubber and beauty.

ALICE PFEIFFER: Who is the Mugler man today ?

NICOLA FORMICHETTI: I don’t have a man. I don’t start like that. I’m just inspired by different people, friends around me, by him, him, and him [pointing at crowds of friends sitting by him].

PFEIFFER: What was your initial approach when you began working on the collection?

FORMICHETTI: I went into the archive and took different things I like, both from women’s and menswear, and did a styling session. So I paired, say, a rubber jacket from 1982 and a boy’s suit. At the same time, I started looking for boys whose beauty I wanted to take to another level.

PFEIFFER: Beauty and rubber—is this what Mugler is about to you?

FORMICHETTI: Mugler was about superhuman, and I was looking for something similar, but for something coming from inside. I wanted to give power with a structure, like he did, but from inside, so to speak. That’s why we stripped down things but kept the silhouette.

PFEIFFER: You have five jobs at once. Do you think you can focus as a fashion designer?

FORMICHETTI: I’m not a designer, I’m a creator. To me, it’s always been about collaboration, I’ve never studied styling or fashion. As far as I’m concerned, it boils down to common sense: have fun, more importantly have fun with your friends and keep a global view on what you’re doing.

PFEIFFER: What is the relationship between all these parallel careers?

FORMICHETTI: You tell me [laughs]. I guess I could call it fashion without borders: I live in New York, my assistant is in London, the designers are in Paris, accessory designers are in Japan and Berlin. Today, because of the Internet, you move around constantly—and this is certainly reflected in my work.

PFEIFFER: And do you have any free time to yourself?

FORMICHETTI: Let me just put it that way: I work really hard and play really hard too.