Lady Gaga’s design guru Nicola Formichetti


By Stephan Rabimov, editor-in-chief of DEPESHA magazine. 


The defining historical figures – always les enfants terribles – continue to write their radical manifestos, the mise-en-scene for our future.  What awaits us, one and all? A bright utopia or the apocalypse?  A question that perhaps more than sums up Nicola Formichetti’s contributions to fashion’s architectonic shifts between old and new.  Formichetti, despite constant travel between Lady Gaga’s performances, Mugler’s offices in Paris, his home in New York, and Tokyo, where he is the fashion director of Vogue Homme Japan and Uniqlo, took a moment to share his vision of the future, how to remain creative under pressure, and why he doesn’t want to reinvent Lady Gaga.


Mugler Digital Muse feat. Nicola Formichetti from DEPESHA on Vimeo.


In today’s world, where information gets disseminated so quickly, are fashion shows still relevant?


Yeah, of course. You can always be creative and try to do different things.


So you see it a positive future for the magazines.


Yeah, because a few months ago, I was like, ‘Magazine is dead.’ I used to be a big magazine junky and I stopped buying magazines because of the Internet. I started feeling a little bit flat and for me it became work…images, images, images, and it was very two dimensional.


In your vision, what is a perfect fashion magazine?


I don’t know, because for me, a magazine, on top of information and visuals and voices that you need to have, for me it is a place where people can be part of something that you’re into, so the perfect magazine should have that leadership, or be something more of a mother ship.


You were a child that was raised between continents, different cultures. Is there on moment in your childhood that marks your fascination with fashion?


Well, my fascination with fashion came from my mom. She was a Japanese woman living in Italy. So she was very fashion obsessed, and she loved Versace and Armani and Italian Vogue when I was younger. The center of Rome, shopping, looking at windows: I would like, wow, that is so amazing and totally be in awe of this glamorous lifestyle. At the same time, three days later, we would be in Japan, and I would be in a computer game store going nuts. For me, it was this contrast of one place and another.


Untitled Video Portrait feat. Nicola Formichetti from DEPESHA on Vimeo.


And both of these places have clearly influenced your work when you became Creative Director of Mugler. In the world where a designer has to come out with a collection pre-Fall through Spring, Summer, etc., how do you remain creative? Is there too much of a commercial pressure?


Ideas always come. Also, I have lots of great collaborators around me, so it’s not always just me. There are always people around me that help me make stuff, and see ideas through to reality. The most amazing thing is the show went really well, and selling the pieces went amazingly. We did a great show, for both men and women – we introduced Rico [Rick Genest] and [Lady] Gaga modeled. And all my favorite stores like Barney’s and Dover Street and Opening Ceremony, they all bought the clothes. That was an amazing feeling.


Of all the outfits you have created for the famous Lady Gaga, is there one particular look that resonates the most with you?


Gaga is Gaga. She is who she is. We don’t want to reinvent her and reinvent her. For us, she loves the shoulders, she loves the heels, she loves the hats, you know, it’s sexy, that’s her. It’s more about reinterpreting that idea and evolving. So my favorite outfit? I cannot say, I don’t know. There are too many. 


Have you been back to Japan since the devastating tsunami of 2011?


Yeah, I go there every month.  It’s a really terrible thing that has happened, but the good thing, the outcome, is the attitude of younger people that changed completely. They are like, ‘Oh my god, we have to do something about it now.’ 


What is your favorite thing to do to relax? 


I get to do what I love and it’s pure fun. I don’t really get tired because I’m doing what I enjoy doing. Sometimes, traveling, I try to be fit within reason, I try to go to the gym and yoga, but nothing too frantic. New York definitely helps, because all my friends are like, Ok! Let’s go to the gym! But I meditate a lot, I’m really into Eastern medicine, herbs and acupuncture. That’s my Japanese side, I never get too stressed or too upset. I’m not like my Italian dad, I’m more like my mom. I always try to be centered and accepting of all.                   

Nicola Formichetti by Branislav Jankic ©

About The Author

"Most magazines expire monthly, mainly because the content within the pages is only relevant for a short period of time. Stephan Rabimov, founder and editor in chief of DEPESHA, aims to produce an independent magazine, led by a team of passionate people who were looking for a fashion publication ahead of trends and with more depth, yet visually striking. If you ever get your hands on DEPESHA – you’ll know what I mean. DEPESHA is a magazine of fashion, art, and literature, but unlike most other fashion magazines of the world, the cover of this publication is not filled with sensational headlines. Its unique format and timeless information, have you reading the pages of DEPESHA time and time again. It boldly drives a particular leitmotif through each issue with originality and creativity unparalleled in the fashion world today. The magazine is published in both Russian and English languages through a prism of Russian expatriates around the world. Containing information of interest to a much wider audience than one would assume. DEPESHA aims to become a magazine with a global reach. It is obvious that DEPESHA’s editors carefully curate the fashion content. While other fashion magazines succeed in discussing immediate trends, DEPESHA reports on the back-story, highlighting the history, the direction, and personas behind each fashion brand. Within the art section, the magazine profiles and interviews artists from around the world, paying a special attention to emerging talent. In the literature section, it was surprising to see names such as Susan Sontag and Nina Kruscheva, more likely to appear in Monocle or The New Yorker. Interdisciplinary at its core, DEPESHA is becoming the voice of a more demanding generation eager to explore contemporary fashion, arts, literature, and culture beyond the mainstream. This “bookzine“ — as Stephan said DEPESHA is also referred to as because of its various elements — is truly an inspirational publication to read in conjunction with other magazines. It focuses on bringing a greater depth to disciplines it covers twice a year. Each issue asks its audience to pause and reflect; it asks them “what do you have to know about contemporary fashion and art in order to find meaning?” FORMING DEPESHA Stephan was brought up with a strong value for education; leading up his two master’s degrees from Columbia University. After which he was working for the United Nations Development Program in New York City, all the while conceptualizing his magazine. Born in Russia, and later immigrated to Oregon, his time in New York City had matured him, and he had grown from the experiences the city presented him with. However he adds, “No matter where I would have ended up in the world I would have made this product. It was like a calling.” Where did the name Depesha come from? Depesha (Russian), in historic context, meant a letter sent by courier, a letter of significant importance and urgency. Later it became a common word for telegram. The word has both a historical and an aristocratic meaning – this touches on DEPESHA’s timeless articles and luxury appeal, and and since our roots were in the Internet, the grand-grandchild of the telegraph, it was a perfect name for the magazine. How has the magazine grown since the first issue? Over the years, DEPESHA continued to look back at its mission to produce a highly curated, limited edition “bookzine” aimed at “inspiring people to read”. From the start we wanted to create a global platform for works by emerging artists as well as established fashion designers, art directors, and writers. One of the most significant developments that took place recently is that we began producing each volume with a different theme, carried across through captivating editorials and thought-provoking narrative. INNER WORKINGS What are your favorite parts of the world? I don’t use the word “favorite” a lot. My tastes vary depending on the moment or a feeling, but from my most recent excursions – I definitely like Tokyo. It was inspirational for “The Future” issue I am working on now. What are your favorite parts of NYC? There is a really interesting space I’ve recently discovered, The Atrium at Lincoln Center. They have these beautiful, gigantic hanging gardens, a zen space. They also serve tasty drinks and it’s really quiet there. It is my little secret hiding place in the city. What do you enjoy reading? Lately I have been reading a lot of past issues of The National Geographic, Theory of Fashion Journal, and notes and speeches by great literature heads, The New York Times, and The Economist. Also very fascinated with current events; I think that came from my education in international and public affairs. I enjoy reading about and learning how the world changes everyday. Sometimes I feel like change is the only constant in my life.", March 2011.

Send this to friend