Nicola Formichetti is a name synonymous with humour, fun and innovation. The man best known for putting Lady Gaga in that meat dress (and that Hussein Chalayan egg) has transitioned from successful celebrity stylist to an even more successful designer.
First known for his cutting-edge work at Mugler and Uniqlo, the Italian-Japanese creative then took his talents to denim giant Diesel where he still holds the position of creative director.
In 2014, Formichetti started his “most personal project”: Nicopanda. Taking inspiration from the street cultures of Japan, New York and London, the brand’s collections centre on wardrobe basics – with an unconventional spin.
“It’s the kind of clothing my friends and I like to wear everyday,” Formichetti tells Yahoo Style UK. “Great sweatshirts, funny graphics… things you can wear to the gym or a nightclub!”
“It’s a collective of all my friends and the stuff we collect and laugh about. I love the idea of everyone around the world wearing Nicopanda because it is designed for all.”
Previous collections have featured everything from gothic blood red velvet gowns, Teletubby-hued knitwear and netted tutus that would drive any ballerina mad with envy.
But it’s Nicopanda’s unisex nature that has fast become its signature – although Formichetti stresses that this was a happy accident. “The goal was never to make a unisex collection – it just happened that way,” he says. “It’s the way kids dress these days. For me, it feels natural.”
Wearability is the label’s next best feature. Where many designers continually churn out pieces that the majority of their client base would never wear, each of Nicopanda’s looks can slot into your wardrobe with ease.
“I like to make classic pieces that allow you to dress yourself up or keep it casual,” says Formichetti, noting that Nicopanda’s playful anime-influenced twist is “the most important thing.”
This season, he crossed the pond to show for the very first time in one of his many homes: London. “I lived in London for years; it’s where I first started my career in fashion,” the designer recalls. “The way kids dress up and the creativity in London is on another level. It just feels like the right time and place.”
Not only is he showing in a brand new city but Formichetti is embarking on the ‘see now, buy now’ route in a big big way. Partnering with Amazon Prime, a select few looks from Nicopanda’s upcoming SS18 collection can be delivered to your door within two hours of Saturday night’s catwalk show.
They’re calling it ‘see now, prime now.’ Formichetti thinks the concept is “insane” but is fully on board. “Amazon is the perfect partner for a see now buy now collection,” he says. “They have amazing delivery standards and we are the first fashion brand to utilise it on the runway.”
Hoping to fulfil his aim of getting Nicopanda into the hands (and hearts) of everyone, the designer thinks that partnerships such as this are the way to achieving true inclusiveness.
“Inclusivity is one of Nicopanda’s core values, alongside creativity and innovation,” he comments, adding: “I think the industry can always do better but it’s certainly moving in the right direction.”
For those already salivating at the chance to get your hands on a straight-off-the-runway look, here’s what to expect from Nicopanda’s SS18 offering: “dairy farms, glitter, and the Olympics. Oh, and hot pink… it’s the best colour.”
“I was inspired by the incredibly curated vintage shops in Tokyo, the street style of NYC and the club kids of London.”
Held in Amazon’s Photography Studio in Hoxton, flesh and berets were the highlights of the fast-paced collection which saw models strutting so fast that a camera struggled to capture them.
Models were magpies, adorned with clanging metal knick-knacks from head to toe. The boys bravely donned tiny shorts and Y-fronts that left little to the imagination while girls were ominous in big enveloping hoods.
There were whoops and cheers as certain faces took to the catwalk including the famed 80s club kid Princess Julia who played the Nicopanda bride – wearing hot pink of course.
What was thought to be a finale turned into Formichetti’s ‘see now, prime now’ section with male models holding towering piles of Amazon branded boxes while displaying the inherently wearable hoodies, bombers and leggings.
If all that doesn’t whet your appetite, perhaps the fact that Formichetti has decided to slash Nicopanda’s prices will. Last season, he admitted that prices had been cut by 20%; a pretty significant figure in the world of fashion.
“It’s really simple,” he explains when asked why. “Nicopanda is designed for all and we want it be accessible to as many people as possible.”
“That has always been my dream.”
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