A Conversation with Nicola Formichetti

Delightfully eccentric to the point of dressing the likes of Lady Gaga, Nicola Formichetti pulls inspiration from all over and then some for his designs and styling. Being a formidable and award-winning fashion director and editor, Nicola has already worked with French fashion house, Thierry Mugler, as well as Vogue Hommes Japan and Uniqlo. Additionally, he has presented a strong set of editorial skills as contributor to several fashion publications. Having recently shared his archive of Gaga outfits, as well as his Asian-inspired Nicopanda products and more at his Lane Crawford pop-up store, we were able to sit down with the man from two worlds. A byproduct of both Japanese and Italian culture, we speak with Formichetti about his influences and experiences of the past.

Growing up… I felt as a complete outsider. I lacked in style and so I would dress a bit crazy. When I think about it now, it was kind of useful for the work I do now.

How it was for me back then… it was pretty tough, both mentally and emotionally. I mean, it wasn’t as if I had a bad experience or anything like that, I just felt really lonely because I didn’t know anyone else that was like me.

As for family… I had my brother, but… god, I never even thought about being a Eurasian! I mean I joke about it but… did you know that there’s a Eurasian Facebook society!

When I was living in Japan… the local people would sometimes not even look me in the eyes when I was talking to them. They would go through someone else to talk to me because they thought that I wasn’t Japanese, therefor not able to speak their language. And I’m like, “Umm… I’m talking to you in fluent Japanese!”

It’s hard… but I’m also embracing the fact that I look different. From working for Vogue and Uniqlo in Japan, in a way, I was able to kind of do whatever I wanted – I got to be a bit crazy. If I was fully Japanese… I don’t know… that’s not really accepted in a way, but because I’m half Western, I was a little bit more free to be crazy.

If I stayed in one place like Japan… like if I were to live in Japan for more than 2 to 3 weeks I think I would become more Japanese and I’m a little bit scared of that. That’s why I’m always moving around. Yeah… I’d totally become Japanese because I’ll embrace the whole thing — I’ll watch the TV, read the news, read magazines — I’ll become totally immersed in everything Japanese.

Being half Asian and half Western… could of been a flash in the pan thing. I don’t know, right now it’s all mixed with “I’m quarter this, an eighth that.” Am I the last survivor of half and halfs? Haha… Who do I know that are Eurasians… yeah I know a couple of people… they’re all kind of my age. You never get to think of stuff like that because in Japan, it’s so extreme, and in America it’s so diverse that it’s like, you don’t even think about race.

Having been brought up in both Japan and Rome… I was local to both. I don’t know actually… I guess I don’t have a place. It’s everywhere and nowhere.

Photography: HYPEBEAST

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