Nicola Formichetti Talks V111 Cover and His Exciting Next Steps

Nicola Formichetti Talks V111 Cover and His Exciting Next Steps

Nicola Formichetti Talks V111 Cover and His Exciting Next Steps

The designer went behind V's lens for the first time ever to capture Voice of Freedom, the cover story of V111. We talk to him about the experience and his goals for the new year.

The designer went behind V's lens for the first time ever to capture Voice of Freedom, the cover story of V111. We talk to him about the experience and his goals for the new year.

Text: MATHIAS ROSENZWEIG

Today marks the launch of V111’s third and final cover—an Italian translation to compliment the digital and US versions, revealed earlier this week. This time around, for the Discovery Issue, we’re celebrating singer-songwriter Sam Smith (as interviewed by Sarah Jessica Parker), as well as the exciting rising talents making us feel hopeful about 2018.

One such talent is Nicola Formichetti, who shot this cover story to create his most in-depth photographic venture yet. A long time friend and collaborator of V’s, Formichetti’s career is, in itself, an homage to the beauty of exploration, as well as possibility and evolution. His work is, without a doubt, inspirational, but also indicative of the type of shape-shifting for which the fashion industry allows, especially when approached by someone of Formichetti’s multi-disciplinary caliber. Having now worked with a host of talents, perhaps Lady Gaga being the most prominent, Formichetti’s latest endeavor was assuming the position of Artistic Director at Diesel, a gig he’s now leaving after a successful four year run.

We spoke to the fashion jack-of-all trades about pushing artistic boundaries, what’s next, and why 2018 is all about having fun.

Starting with the shoot, can you tell me a bit about the logistics? When and where did you shoot everything? 

So I think we had been shooting for the last two months here and there over a couple of days. I think we just shot the cover in Paris and then all the rest of the shoot in New York. In the end, it’s almost 50 images or something. It's kind of like, to me, V Magazine always makes me do crazy stuff, which is very exciting. Of course, V Magazine kind of pushes and supports people, but for me personally, V is the first US magazine that I ever styled for. It gave me my big break in the US when I was a young stylist. Those old shoots to me were such a big deal. Also, the amazing photographers I’ve worked with at V, with people like Inez and Vinoodh and Steven Klein. Even Gaga! I did a shoot with Gaga in LA—that’s how I met her. For me, now in 2018, its all about saying “fuck it” and trying new things and doing what you like doing. Don’t listen to other people.

It feels like now more than ever, people are working with more than one medium. To try something new definitely seems fitting. It does go hand in hand with the idea of freedom that this issue touches on. 

It doesn’t really matter the medium; it’s just about expressing your ideas and your feeling. It’s just a form of expression. I was a stylist, then became a designer and director. Anyone can do anything, you just have to learn the technique of that specific medium. The new generation… anyone can take pictures, get views. People are becoming very, very creative. That can be a bit scary sometimes. There is so much out there at the moment. It pushes you to do something better and that you like.

When there’s so much content coming out, it can be hard to break through the clutter. How do you make something stand out?

One of the only ways to do that is if you’re trying to be yourself. You are the only person in the world. You can express yourself as much as you want.

You have been doing photography for a while, but I assume this is one of the bigger shoots you have done if not the biggest.

I did one shoot for my magazine in Japan. This is my second one really. I learned so much from this shoot. I want to keep going. I mean never say never, but I’m not going to be a photographer. This is just part of the journey. I want to keep doing things I feel like doing, especially in 2018. I just want to concentrate on my personal stuff like styling and working with musicians and taking pictures and drawing and having my own brand, Nicopanda. It’s almost loving myself more in an artistic way. I want to take care of myself and not do too much just for other people.  I just want to stay at home and enjoy, and be creative and grateful and inspire.

To be frank, you’ve had a lot of success in a lot of different areas. Sometimes it really becomes a lot more work than play. It sounds like 2018 is supposed to be finding the fun in it again. 

It was getting a little crazy working so much, but then it was like, “Well, what do I want to do?” I am still young! What I do when I’m in that position is go back to my roots. I love to play piano—I played the piano all the time. It’s like my meditation. I can really go deep in my thinking. I love people and I love working with people. This shoot was incredible. We had an incredible cast; all these musicians and actors and models all together inspiring the magazine and me. It’s about having no boundaries. The first person I shot was Grace Elizabeth. We didn’t even do hair or makeup or clothes—nothing. She just came in front of my camera and did some photos, and it was amazing. She is so simple and cool and beautiful. Models are such incredible creatures.

Can you talk about working with Sam Smith?

Yeah! I’m a huge fan of Sam’s music. Finally his album is out and I’m super excited for him. He was such a darling. He was humming and singing all the time while we were shooting and I was just like, “Oh my god, Sam Smith is singing,” backstage and during hair and makeup. He has the voice of an angel. He’s such a down-to-earth guy. There’s no bullshit. He looked amazing. I think he is much more confident than before.  He’s the front man of this story but I love that we mixed him with other characters.

For a lot of people, I think it was kind of a bleak year. But people are beginning to find their voice again. It’s inspirational and something you were able to capture on camera by shooting this. 

Also, by talking to people. I love this actor Nico Tortorella. He was so inspirational. He was beautiful and handsome, but he spoke about loving and loving himself and other people. He was very open about his gender identity and sexuality. He has a podcast actually called “The Love Bomb” where he talks about sexuality and gender fluidity and all those things. He’s an actor and activist. I think mixing him with Sam is very, very cool for the New Year.

I have a question to how it relates back to you again. Do you think your definition of happiness and success has shifted for the upcoming year? Do you have a specific goal or is it just to relax, soak it all up, and enjoy everything?

My goal is I just want to enjoy myself. Maybe focus a little bit. I tend to do a bunch of different things, so yeah, I can do a bunch of different things, but at the same time I want it to be more focused. Of course, I love fashion and I want to be involved in fashion, but ultimately I have other passions. I’m really open, and I kind of want to let the universe do its thing.

You're letting the universes take the wheel. 

Totally. I’m just a vehicle, just an expression. I forgot to mention also the styling of the shoot was Anna Trevelyan. We used to work together. She was my assistant for a long time and to be working with her as a stylist for the shoot was so special. Now she’s a very successful stylist and it’s nice to see people that you’ve worked with like that and get to do a project together. So that was really beautiful. That added another layer to the whole project.

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