“Epic lifestyle, freakdom, gorgeous or die, the “fuck” in the future poetry, the street in high fashion. Nicola Formichetti is fashion’s freedom”.
He came to London to study Architecture (it was an excuse to move to London since it had always been a big ambition of his), but he preferred diving deep into the city’s nightlife to books, therefore turning the city’s street style and venues into source of inspiration for his life. Which turned out to be his fortune.
Nicola Formichetti perfectly embodies the union between Japanese and western culture, as his innate visionary creativity led him to be recently nominated, at only 34, as “the most influential creative force of modern fashion”
As stylist he has been recently appointed creative director of the French fashion brand Thierry Mugler, after having been for a few years fashion director of Japanese brand Uniqlo, Lady Gaga’s friend and fashion stylist, as well fashion editor of Vogue Hommes Japan; these are just some of the occupations of “Nicopanda”, how he likes to be called by his fans (especially Twitter ones, , who get regularly updated with posts and news).
But let’s start from the beginning. Son of a Japanese airline hostess and an Italian pilot, Formichetti was born in Japan and grew up both in Tokyo and Rome, hence absorbing both cultures. He studied the piano (even nowadays he loves playing to relax) and then, as mentioned before, he moved to the UK. He started working at the boutique The Pineal Eye and thanks to his exceptional eye for fashion, he became its art director and head buyer. His unique style was soon spotted by Katy England, Fashion Editor of the London magazine Dazed & Confused who offered him a monthly page on the magazine.
This started his rapid climb in fashion publishing: he became first fashion director and then creative director of Dazed, which will earn him collaborations with other major publications such as Harper’s Bazaar US, Arena Homme and with some of the great international fashion houses, - - Dolce & Gabbana, Alexander Mcqueen, Prada, Gareth Pugh, Missoni, Iceberg, Nike, H&M and many, many others. His portfolio boasts collaborations with a spine chilling list of photographers: Nick Knight, Hedi Slimane, Oliviero Toscani, Terry Richardson, Mario Testino...
In May 2009 he met Lady Gaga on the set of an editorial V Magazine by photographer Sebastian Faena and it was, quoting his own words, “instant love”.
The singer soon became the stylist’s friend and muse, who by moulding her image and artistically directing her performances consolidated her worldwide fashion icon status. Their motto hence became: “F*** fashion´ because we love it so much we want to destroy it and start again and keep it fresh.” It was inevitable that such visionary minds would become a unique phenomenon!
Suffice to mention Lady Gaga’s appearance at the Grammy Awards, where she sang her “Born this Way”, carried on the red carpet inside a “Alien egg-like” structure: idea developed by the concept of rebirth and the image of a human embryo suggested by Lady Gaga to her trusted Formichetti. At first he had come up with egg-shaped shoes, evidently the idea was developed even further! As Formichetti says, this is exactly his way of working “One thing leads to the other, it starts small then it explodes”.
Nicopanda’s computer is packed with unusual cartoon images, abstract art, strange characters and designs. To find inspiration he combines them until he finds the right synthesis that will lead to the exact vision he wants to express.
Talking about unusual characters we can’t help mentioning Rico Genest, or Zombie Boy, a Canadian boy with face and body covered in skeleton tattoos; Formichetti discovered him on Facebook and was immediately captivated by his peculiarity. It was (Artistic) love at first sight. He was so keen to have him as testimonial for Mugler that he changed the collection two weeks before the fashion show to adapt the brand to the dark goth flavour of the youngster. Along with photographer Mariano Vivanco he went to Montreal to meet him and shoot the Mugler campaign.
Moreover Nico then paid the boy’s fines (it is rumoured 20.000 dollars…) accumulated when he was homeless and without a passport, taking him to model at fashion shows in Paris and certainly changing his life forever.
Link a campagna Mugler: