Nicopanda, the forward-thinking brainchild and sort-of-eponymous label of Diesel’s creative director Nicola Formichetti, recently launched its third collection to its cult following’s delight. Formichetti delivered a spring line that edges further toward its bold, defiant roots courtesy of its designer’s reactionary thinking. Models.com kicks off the Nicopanda exclusive editorial photographed by Jack Waterlot first before it goes live, and below, we speak more in-depth to the designer about his thought processes.
Models Alix Angjeli, Eveline Rozing, Nicoletta and Huan Yang
Stylist Ian Milan
Hair Adam Markarian
Makeup Yacine Diallo (BRIDGE Artists)
Motion effects George Redhawk
For those who don’t know, what is the Nicopanda character and from where did it come?
Nicopanda is a world I’ve created around my alter ego, which began as a simple character named after my nickname growing up, but has since evolved into a fully developed lifestyle brand. Beyond being an idea, which represents universality and individuality, Nicopanda is a fashion brand fusing eastern and western aesthetics through clothing and accessories.
I’ve heard multiple mentions of “Punk Hello Kitty” – what’s punk to you?
Punk is finding your point of view and unapologetically sticking to it. At Nicopanda, we’re unapologetically cute and less interested in following trends as we’re interested in making them.
Have there been any restrictions on what you can and cannot do as the brand is expanding?
We don’t respond to restrictions, we respond to possibilities. We’re always obsessively looking at what’s next in social technology and building Nicopanda around that exciting future. Youth culture will always help determine how we expand, so as long as we’re constantly listening, potential overrides limitation any day.
How do you find harmony dividing yourself between Diesel and Nicopanda, speaking mentally and creatively?
I always prefer to be engaged with a number of different projects, especially because I love a real challenge. I’m constantly pushing myself and excited about what’s next—figuring out how to top something I’ve done before in order to endlessly evolve. I love Diesel, where I get to work on collections and projects on a large scale, while Nicopanda allows me to be more personal with my creativity and speak directly to fans. It’s also important to surround yourself with a strong team that works at a similarly fast pace. My NYC home is an important place for me to come back to every few weeks. It’s filled with plants and crystals—very feng shui.
On balance: in pushing your design and ideas, how do you find the sweet spot between too far and not far enough?
I always prefer edging toward too far, rather than not far enough. Since I speak to a community that’s proud to be shamelessly and confidently themselves, their fashion is a direct reflection of this boldness. I’m very serious about having fun with design, so in general, a creative space with no rules is one I prefer to think inside of.
Where do you draw inspiration from? Have you had any ah-ha! moments as far as your creative compass is concerned?
Always technology and social media. I think it’s important to stayed tuned into who or what the Internet is responding to at all times. Whether it’s a skateboarder I’m following on Snapchat or a choreographer, like Josh Killacky, I’m following on YouTube, these people have an exciting energy that attracts and inspires me. This also gives me a global perspective, which plays especially into what we’re doing at Nicopanda.
What role does casting play into the brand and its DNA?
We’ve created a community around Nicopanda, online and offline, so it’s only fitting that we’ve always tapped into that community for casting lookbooks, campaigns or presentations. Fashion is most often an outsiders club, so by finding new faces on say, Instagram, we’re changing norm and making Nicopanda a fully inclusive brand.
What’s most exciting / encouraging you about the changing fashion landscape?
That it’s always changing. Obsessively following and responding to those changes keeps me excited. I’m always looking for new apps or developing technology and challenge myself to fit all those into fashion.