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year run as artistic director, Nicola Formichetti to leave Diesel

Diesel and Nicola Formichetti are parting ways after a four-year collaboration, WWD has learned.

In a joint exclusive phone interview, Diesel founder Renzo Rosso and Formichetti, artistic director, spoke in a friendly manner, sounding upbeat about the shared experience and about future prospects at the same time. “The contract expires at the end of December, so there is not that much to say. We’ve had five fantastic years [including early interaction with Formichetti]. It was a fantastic collaboration. I really love very much what was done, and the relationship between us is really special,” Rosso said.

The entrepreneur pointed to Formichetti’s Japanese background, saying that Japan was very inspirational every season, defining it as “the most avant-garde country,” and one that accounts for 21 percent of Diesel’s business. “He also has Italian blood, so he is special. I like him personally, and we complement each other,” Rosso added.

Asked what Formichetti brought to the denim and fashion brand, Rosso answered: “A fil rouge, from the beginning to the end. This was missing before, and the collections had become boring and a problem. His styling especially is amazing.”

Diesel is not naming a successor to the artistic director at the moment. “I believe this kind of company can work differently, and not in this same kind of direction. There are many things coming up, special projects. The market is very different now. We want to be modern, I want to explore,” Rosso explained.

Formichetti described his years at Diesel as “amazing. I’ve had a good time, but we both decided to end it here. I travel a lot to New York and Tokyo. I want to concentrate on my projects, but there will always be a bond between us.”

Formichetti said that when he started at Diesel, he “loved developing [projects] from the beginning to the end, to go into the archives.” He emphasized the “incredible ads” done with Diesel, working with “edgy photographers” and creative minds.

Formichetti took the opportunity to congratulate Rosso and the brand on its 40th anniversary next year. “It’s not the end with Diesel, but I have my own brand Nicopanda. There will be more styling, going deeper with musicians and actors. My dream is to work on a movie,” he concluded.

To be sure, it appears that Formichetti will be keeping busy. He is forging ahead with his alliance with Uniqlo and will continue to do so, according to a spokesman for its parent company Fast Retailing.

Earlier this year, Amazon Fashion Europe teamed with Nicopanda to launch a unisex streetwear capsule range. Amazon’s version of see-now-buy-now during London Fashion Week was geared for Amazon Prime shoppers. There is no word yet if the designer will work with Amazon Fashion again. An Amazon spokeswoman said the company does not have anything to announce at this time.

Kevin Kollenda, who has two companies with Formichetti — a creative agency Two Hustlers and — mapped out some of the 2018 business initiatives.

After that “pretty impressive program with Amazon” with its see now-prime now, and another capsule collection in Urban Outfitters, Nicopanda will announce a major partnership with one of North America’s largest retailers, Kollenda said. Set to launch beauty in April, Nicopanda will move into other new categories like publishing. Kollenda is expected to unveil a children’s book detailing the story of Formichetti and Nicopanda in the fourth quarter of 2018. That project is being overseen with help from CAA, which represents Formichetti, as well.

Formichetti has also collaborated with Urban Outfitters for a Nicopanda capsule collection. For the holiday launch, he and some of his fashion-loving friends visited two of the retailer’s New York outposts to show off the women’s and men’s apparel and accessories, and to meet with shoppers. Formichetti is still doing projects with editorial magazines, too, having recently worked with Mario Testino in Paris, Kollenda said. Formichetti is also still creative director of his own magazine Free.

Kollenda said that collaboration will go into next year and other partnerships are also in the works. “Nicola loves playing with people high and low. The brand is going to move into a number of categories and partnerships, and in some cases surprising ones,” he said.

Kollenda continued: “He’s really playing with the brand in 2018 that obviously we have been lathering up and working on in a way that we have not [done] to date. Part of that is really making a brand that is more affordable, accessible and available to all. That really is where the brand is going. So we’ve lowered the price point, we’ve changed our distribution and we’re partnering with people, brands, retailers and companies that are giving access to Gen Y and Z to Nicola’s vision of what a brand should look and feel like. That’s kind of driven by their desires, their needs and their creativity.”

Expanding Nicopanda’s wholesale business globally is another objective, according to Nicopanda chief executive officer Soni Dhesi, who declined to quantify annual sales.

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