The man behind Gaga's dress of meat
It’s the morning of the show. Have you had a crazy day so far?
We’re practically done. I’ve done hundreds of looks already. We have two or three more to do and then that’s it. It’s exciting because fashion shows are my thing and I haven’t done a public one in a year and a half. I wanted to do it today because it is exactly one year since I joined Diesel. It’s so good because no one has seen what I’ve been doing. The last show I did was an internal only show for 800 people. But my experience at Diesel has been intimate so tonight’s only 3-400 people. It’s been hard to select the top people – you’re f***ing lucky to be here!
You seem remarkably relaxed considering how close we are to the show
In high-fashion you thrive on stress and tension. There’s lots of bitching and back-stabbing. But people at Diesel are actually nice. They even eat food and everything. You don’t go crazy with work; you stop for dinner, you can enjoy life.
I love the F*** Fashion T-shirt idea you had with Lady Gaga [he was her stylist] – fashion’s supposed to be fun, right?
It’s just clothes. But also we love what we do so much that we want to destroy it and create it again. Destroy and create, that’s the idea. And of course not taking yourself too seriously. Renzo Rosso [Diesel founder] is also like that, which I was shocked to find out.
Tell us about the Reboot concept
Diesel was doing really well, but maybe it was losing touch with your soul a little bit. In the 1990s Renzo was very hands-on with visuals and products that go straight to your heart. But he has other companies now and the business has grown so much. He wanted to keep the core DNA of denim, leather, and military and utility wear. It’s all still relevant today, but I wanted to reinterpret it and push it forward. The show’s not about trends, but about our history and where we want to go next.
It seems like you and Diesel are the perfect match. Diesel is so strong in the Far East, but has a European home, and you are half-Japanese, half-Italian and have lived in London
It was like coming home. I lived abroad so I was literally coming home to Italy, but also coming home to my youth in London. I moved there in the ’90s’ and Diesel was the thing. I couldn’t afford it then but I’d go and check out the cool people hanging out at the store in Neal Street. Renzo took me through the archives when I started and I saw all these pieces that reminded me of that time. Every garment has a story. I told them we have to digitise all Diesel’s stuff and film him talking about it all before he dies (laughs) because there are so many crazy stories.
You started in magazines, on our side of table, as a fashion editor. Did that give you an appreciation of the presentation of a vision?
Yes, I’m the perfect person for the job! [laughs]
Is that what you said in the job interview?
It’s me and no one else. Hire me! No, it was difficult when I switched because people criticise and say things like, You can’t even sew. I was like, Of course I can sew. So I put lobsters on girls’ heads and made meat dresses. Those visuals are so strong. I wanted to prove to people that I can make amazing clothes. I started in architecture and I love visuals. Finally I am in a place where I can explore all these avenues.
You’re hard to pigeonhole
Put me anywhere and I’ll manage, thanks to my parents. I’ve been travelling all around the world since I was little – at boarding school in Italy and Japan. In the beginning I wanted to be like everyone else. I wanted to fit in, so I’m pretty good at blending in too. But then you want to be a bit of a punk so you turn into a moody teenager and colour your hair blue.
When you dropped out of your architecture course in London, did you have a vision of where you wanted to be in the future?
I just had great mentors. Like Katy England who spotted me at Dazed & Confused. Some of the looks tonight are inspired by her. I was lucky at the beginning and I just kept going. The people at Dazed always said, “We believe in you, we love your style, so just do your thing”. So now I do that with my collaborators and I don’t keep assistants for too long. I want them to get on. I don’t need to get the glory the whole time. No, I never had a big vision. I still don’t. It’s the same for Renzo. We enjoy what we do today and hope for the best.
You’re very strong in the digital medium. Everyone knows it’s important but not everyone gets it right
Tonight we’re not live-streaming, controversially. I’d normally live-stream my ass but I wanted to do something intimate this time. Sometimes you create these events and see 15 seconds of it on Instagram and that’s it. All the work, all the effort and that’s it. Digital is amazing but it’s also so flat. We want people to enjoy what they are seeing and have an experience. It’s all about balance between digital and physical. It’s a show. There should be a bit of mystery. So we’ll try something new and different and that’s how you learn. You have to be prepared to fail. But I’m pretty confident it will work.
I was thinking about Yoko Ono today. Her punk ethos is now being reappraised and she’s gaining a lot more admirers. She’s never been afraid to put it out there or to fail
I’ve met her once or twice through Gaga who is obsessed with John Lennon. Yoko’s a true punk for me. She’ll be remembered. Yeah, f*** fashion!