With their love of the directional and the digital, photographer Nick Knight and Diesel's artistic director, Nicola Formichetti, make a 21st-century creative dream-team. 2013 saw the two pair up for Formichetti’s #DIESELTRIBUTE campaign, where internet-cast models posed in front of Knight’s iPhone and images were edited using mobile apps like Glitché. As Formichetti’s first project for the brand, it was a way of both paying homage to a rich history and bringing it into our internet-obsessed cultural moment – thus, as he told Dazed, “speaking the language of the young generation”. The accessibility of the equipment – the humble iPhone – served to connect instantly with an audience and to usher in a more democratic era in fashion image-making. As Formichetti said, anyone “can copy the way we do it”, or perhaps even “do something better”.
“With new beginnings there is always a certain looking back to look forward”, Formichetti says of their Pre-Fall 14 campaign The Neo-Neoclassic, and whilst the iPhone has been put down for the most part, Knight and Formichetti have collaborated to create imagery that takes a sampling of the old and clashes it boldly with the new and the now. The images borrow from art history, with figures of male nudes reworked into a landscape that simultaneously evokes Michelangelo, Italian Futurist painting and modern glitch art. Against this, a cast comprised of musicians, Internet foundlings, and actors (including Tumblr favourite Kiko Mizuhara) pose warrior-like, clad in outfits of gleaming dark leather – a classic Diesel staple. It’s not about reviving the past, but reinventing it for the present: as Formichetti declares, bringing art and fashion together “pop Picasso-style!” Knight agrees: “It’s the juxtaposition of the two, of the classical and digital that makes them both feel stronger.” With The Neo-Neoclassic, Knight and Formichetti have once again shown their ability to unite past and future into a dynamic and vibrant vision of the present, and of Diesel as a brand.
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