Moschino’s Adrian Appiolaza on Creating Characters, Having Fun and Freedom of Expression

MILAN — At Moschino, creative director Adrian Appiolaza is aiming at “creating characters going through a journey of discovery and exploration, moving from a chaotic life toward a paradise chosen.”

Appearing happy and full of energy at Moschino’s Milan showroom for an exclusive WWD preview, Appiolaza himself seems to have found his own paradise brand, one that “is a good fit and makes sense” for him, relating to the views of Franco Moschino, “who never took himself or fashion too seriously. When it comes to getting dressed, I think the sense of fun is so important in my psychological world.”

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Kicking off Milan Fashion Week with a show on Friday, Appiolaza will unveil his first menswear collection for the brand at the same time as the women’s resort line. The designer joined Moschino at the end of January, following the sudden death last November of Davide Renne, who had succeeded Jeremy Scott’s decade-long tenure.

Given the short time he had, Appiolaza’s first women’s collection for Moschino, which was unveiled in February, “was really like a quick induction into the brand, and going to the archive was a necessity for me, but also a way to discover the brand in a more intimate way. So, doing this exercise, I managed to build in my head an idea of how I wanted to take the brand forward. Obviously, if I am being 100 percent honest, it’s not about me saying this is Moschino now, it’s about exploring my vision, my taste, my gut feelings and the identity of Moschino from Franco’s era.”

He credited his instinct “for getting through the first collection, when I had only a month and a half to put it together.”

The Argentinian designer has “a huge archive” of different fashion brands and in particular of Moschino garments and accessories, “brands that to me always felt inspiring creatively, because that’s how I started it, buying things for inspiration, and things to wear as well. But it all comes into the same universe for me — to have a sense of fun.”

A preview of the Moschino Men’s Spring 2025 collection.
A preview of the Moschino men’s spring 2025 collection.

Returning to the late founder of the brand came naturally for Appiolaza, as he defines himself as “an archivist, I enjoy the history of what I collect. And I think the history of Moschino was maybe put aside for a while, which I understand — you know, brands evolve and things change. But with my mentality and interest in the past, I thought this could be a challenge to bring the past into the present and toward the future.” He admits this new collection has “hints of Franco’s work, but twisted and changed in ways that feel newer, whether it’s prints that have been modified, or combined in new ways.”

For example, Appiolaza worked with an original Franco Moschino print of the carnation, the national flower of Spain, since the Italian designer “was in love with Spanish culture and that was one of his favorite prints.” Appiolaza decided to juxtapose it with office stationery, from a pin and a ballpoint pen to a pencil sharpener and paper clips for “a fun clash of ideas” and different colors.

Despite his extensive experience working with brands ranging from Loewe and Chloé to Miu Miu and Louis Vuitton, following his instincts allowed him to feel more confident this time around. “Confidence is something that I am mastering now,” he admitted, adding that creatives “tend to be very insecure,” always aiming to do better and better and better, so instinct is helpful.”

In fact, asked about the decision to show men’s and women’s together, Appiolaza said it was “an instinctive exploration.” While staying away from committing to this format for the long term, he said he started from the idea that Moschino “is not about gender in general,” as the founder was a pioneer in playing with women in men’s clothes and the other way around.

Throughout the interview, Appiolaza repeated the word freedom several times. “Franco was breaking the rules, so if you have the possibility, the instinct, and the guts to break the rules, this could be a rule that could be broken.” In his mind, there is no separation between menswear and womenswear collections, as they “can be shown together as one, for everybody to feel familiar with and identify with.” Hence a very diverse and inclusive casting, which was a decision he had already made in February.

“This is something that will be important for me to build a new Moschino language, where everybody’s invited to have fun, to feel free, and to dress up as you want.”

A key goal is “freedom of expression”  and as he builds the Moschino characters, they will travel from the office in the city to the countryside, in a journey that is a metaphor of “an internal and external exploration of freedom.” Hence the looks previewed for WWD: Appiolaza’s interpretation of the suit and the silk patchwork combination of prints, including sunnyside-up eggs — “breakfast before dashing to the office” — and white ducks.

A preview of the Moschino Men’s Spring 2025 collection.
A preview of the Moschino men’s spring 2025 collection.

His first job in Argentina, where he was born, was at an insurance company “to save money to leave to go to London, back in the ‘90s and I remember thinking I don’t want to wear a suit ever in my life,” said the designer, wearing an oversize Moschino T-shirt with the brand’s signature bear symbol and roomy black Bermuda shorts.

Asked about balancing the inherent quirkiness of Moschino with commercial considerations, he said, “Sometimes it’s how you put things together, and then if you pull things apart, they become items that everybody can wear. I want people that come to buy Moschino to have fun, it’s part of the DNA of the brand, and I think it’s so important. Whatever I design, it needs to have a small twist that will not make the garment unwearable but distinctive. In my exploration of how to build the brand, this is always in my mind: how much I can push the boundaries without having to rely on over-design to look interesting. You can do an interesting collection by putting things together in a certain way and create a character, or an interesting, inspiring person that you can identify with.”

Massimo Ferretti, executive chairman of Moschino’s parent company Aeffe, is a reassuring presence, giving the designer free rein. “This is something that I’m enjoying very much. Of course, we have our meetings and we discuss things and obviously it’s important for the brand to move forward, which is something that is [top of mind],” Appiolaza said.

His past design posts have given him the experience to know “when we shouldn’t go there, when it’s too much, and to just pull myself back and try to get into the reality track. It’s in my nature now.”

Launch Gallery: A Preview Look at Moschino Men's Spring 2025 Collection

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