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Nicola Formichetti on Looking Short Next to Lady Gaga, Finding New Talent, His Pop-up Shop, and More

Formichetti and Gaga at the Mugler women's runway show in March.

On September 8, the first day of New York Fashion Week, Mugler creative director and stylist to Lady Gaga Nicola Formichetti opens his first pop-up shop in Tribeca. He'll sell everything from his own jewelry line to tee shirts and hoodies to iPad and iPhone cases — all of which he promises will be affordable. You can read a bit about the shop and see the architect's rendering of it in this week's issue of New York. Here's more from our conversation with Formichetti and one of the shop's architects, Mark Foster Gage of Gage/Clemenceau.

So are you two best friends now?
Mark Foster Gage: Yes, best friends.
Nicola Formichetti: I don’t know how many proposals Boffo [the nonprofit that organizes the pop-up series] gave me — lots of them, and then it was just like, that was it. I don’t think I went through your proposal, I just liked the impact. I couldn’t really understand what it was [based on the rendering], and that was kind of it.
MFG: Did you get the best architects in the world in there?

I love how you're really shameless about this, Mark.
NF: Yeah, they were the best for me. I hope people come, do you think people will come?

Of course! You're really worried about that? Like, when you dress Lady Gaga, do you think no one’s going to look at her?
NF: Oh my god, I’m gonna call everyone, my friends, and make sure [they come].

In the model of the shop you have mirrored coffins with a paper doll inside.
MFG: This is Lady Gaga. Nicola’s showing a bunch of her stuff in the exhibition, so the idea is he could put a mannequin in this coffin thing and the base lights up. So the coffins are actually kind of helping to illuminate the whole space.
NF: Yeah, we’ll put some type of mannequin inside — sometimes, you know, Rico inside.

You’re going to make him sit in the coffin all day? Like, “touch Rico day” at the shop?
NF: No, he’ll want to do that, for sure. We should have maybe like things that you can flip open, little holes, so you can touch the things inside.

But the main focus of the space will be an installation in the back of the store, right?
MFG: That could be some fabulous outfit, it could be — he was talking about hiring a tattoo artist to sit back there, and hanging some sort of canopy over them. But that’s going to change.
NF: We’re going to create a tattoo parlor with real tattoos and a cool little design, so you can only get this tattoo done with the design. So you’re branded for life. Maybe I should do a couple designs?

You're going to be working in the shop during Fashion Week. Are you going to any shows?
NF: No. I don’t really go to any shows other than like young designers you know I might go to, like, Richard Chai — you know, my friends. But I’ve never actually been to a big show in New York.

So are you planning to open a permanent store?
NF: I’d love to love love love to. Because that’s how I started in fashion—working in a store

How do you find young designers?
NF: Most of the young designers that I know are from London and Europe. I have a big you know team there and they’re always looking for new people and it’s great for Gaga — she’s always supporting young designers. But now that I’ve moved here, and I’ve been here for a year and a half I just find people through friends or through blogs or Tumblr or Twitter. Some people send me stuff and then I go, wow, amazing.

People must send you a lot of stuff.
NF: I check everything. My e-mail address is on my website, I check all my twitter messages — everything.

That’s very rare though for someone as high up as you are in this industry.
NF: It takes one second.

Even so, a lot of people pass things through their assistants.
NF: Man, I know…

Or just ignore ignore people.
NF: People think that someone else does it. Like, I do everything. So that’s how I I find people — mostly digitally. I might see an interesting thing on a fashion blog and I check the credits and I Google it and it goes straight to the person.

Is there anyone up and coming you’re really into right now?
NF: I love that Sally LaPointe, I think she’s doing something really fresh. You didn’t really find in New York before that kind of structure, which is a little extreme. Obviously I think it’s perfect for Gaga. I don’t really like when designers go crazy for the sake of it, like you see sometimes in London.

So how can you be in New York? Shouldn’t you be working on your Mugler show?
NF: Yeah I was in Europe last week. We’re going to do something crazy. I’m excited — something quite different from what we’ve done last season. I love it, because after the show, I was like oh my god, what am I going to do next?

Flats. Flats would be new for you.
NF: Yeah. [Laughs]

How high were Gaga's shoes at the CFDA awards anyway? I'm tall and she was towering over me.
NF: That’s like the normal one that she wears always, every day. How many inches? I have no idea.

You came up to like her hip or something.
NF: Everyone was like, oh Nicola is so small — he must be so small because he’s half-Japanese. It’s true even at the Mugler show, when we came out at the end together she’s that tall, and people say, "Oh Nicola is so cute — a little panda."

She's making you look short, you see? Or you're making yourself look short by dressing her like that.
MFG: When we were doing the coffins we had to shrink them down because we didn’t realize how short she was.

But you have to accommodate for the shoes, no?
MFG: Well yeah that’s the... I don’t know. We have to brave that.

Nicola, you've gotten some backlash recently over some things you've been quoted as saying to reporters.
NF: I don’t hate anyone. I know at the beginning I was [frustrated by the backlash]. I have great followers. My friends, the people I respect, they always just said just do your thing. It’s funny Beth Ditto just texted me — she was like, "I love you I love you."

Because people were saying nasty things about you?
NF: Yeah, that I hate fat people. I don't hate anyone.

You’re friends with Beth Ditto?
NF: Yeah. I just did a shoot with her,

So Mark was nervous about what to wear today — I said have Nicola style you.
NF: Yeah but I’m not really good at telling people what to wear on a daily basis.

You mean, every day people who aren't Lady Gaga?
NF: Like, my friends and stuff like.

You're a stylist so people must ask you a lot.
NF: Yeah, it really depends where you go. It really depends what day, what season.

So if I was like should I cut my hair? You wouldn’t know what to tell me.
NF: No.

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Photo: Francois Durand/Getty Images

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Copyright © 2013, New York Media LLC.
All Rights Reserved.

Copyright © 2013, New York Media LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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