If the Internet is about to completely change the fashion industry — and the attitudes of print editors toward technology does, at times, reek of fear of this — Nicola Formichetti will surely be one of the people we look back on and say, he really started something. The Mugler creative director, stylist to Lady Gaga, and Dazed & Confused fashion director did not care that, at his first women's show for the revived Mugler label, editors and critics' views from the audience were obstructed by his staging, which consisted of giant arches that looked like a prehistoric creature from the side. Formichetti knew it would look cool on the video live stream to all the fans watching from home on their computers. “I wanted all the younger generation out there to have better seats than Anna Wintour," he tells W.
Formichetti is the opposite of the many designers who can't use their computers or BlackBerrys and rely on assistants for sending text messages. He answers his e-mails personally and tweets regularly to his 80,000 followers. Gaga got him on Twitter, he says.
“She reads all her messages, and sometimes she sends ones back. She really thinks about what people say. Fans don’t lie. They just tell you what they really think, and they see details that even people in fashion don’t. I love the idea that you can talk directly to a designer or an artist in this way. We don’t need anyone else in between. We don’t need these marketing people. We don’t even need magazines!”
As you can tell, the other refreshing thing about Formichetti, aside from his aesthetic sensibilities and ability to use computers, is his mouth, which is unapologetically honest in an industry where so very few people feel free to do that. He is not a kiss ass.
In 2005 Formichetti was named fashion director of Dazed & Confused, and he began consulting for Uniqlo and collaborating with childhood idols like photographer, Benetton creative director, and Colors maga- zine cofounder Oliviero Toscani. But there were problems. “I hated the whole politics thing,” he said. “I would just tell people the truth, and I’d get fired. It was disaster after disaster.”
One shoot, which involved dressing a rock band, was particularly unfortunate. “I was only used to dressing models and skinny kids,” he recalled. “And I turned up and it was, like, three fat guys. I just left. That was the last time I tried to work with fat people. I think one of them was Ali G’s brother. It was so ghetto.” On another occasion he was hired to style a show for D&G. “I had no idea what I was doing,” he said. “I didn’t know I was sup- posed to Polaroid everything. I was calling friends, saying, ‘What do I do?’ So I just sort of put the stuff together and created this look that I thought was the cool- est thing ever. And then after the show I got fired straightaway. I was so shocked! I found out later that this was supposed to be their show—not the Nicola show. It was supposed to be a collaboration.”
"It" bags are another thing that turns Formichetti off. "I didn’t want Mugler to be about an It bag or an It shoe," he said. "I wanted it to be about a bigger idea of fashion. I wanted people to think, It would be cool to have something from that house, without it being so much about product." This is an interesting approach for a luxury label — so many make their money off things like bags and shoes with clothes being secondary, so it's unclear what Mugler's business strategy is. It's hard to imagine a huge market for Lady Gaga dresses, but whatever the label has planned, we hope it's sustained for a long time. Formichetti has made it one of the most interesting and refreshing right now.