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Diesel Nicola Formichetti Portrait
Nicola FormichettiCourtesy of Diesel

Celebrating individuality with Nicola Formichetti

To commemorate Diesel’s 38th birthday, the brand has revived its rebellious #forsuccessfulliving ethos – we spoke to its creative director to discuss the slogan’s ongoing relevance

Over the last three decades, Diesel has cemented a reputation for celebrating outsider beauty and challenging social conventions. This viewpoint has often translated into eye-catching, tongue-in-cheek ads which nod towards sexuality (remember the Pornhub collaboration?) and champion individual beauty. Arguably the most memorable communication of self-acceptance and empowerment comes in the form of ‘For Successful Living’, a rebellious campaign slogan premiered in the 1990s by Diesel founder Renzo Rosso. 

Now, in a series of celebrations to celebrate both 30 years of Diesel in Japan and the brand’s 38th birthday, the message is being revived in a new project entitled #forsuccessfuliving, a series of 50 images lensed by Terry Richardson. Each photograph comes accompanied with its own rule; examples include ‘be brave’, ‘make yourself heard’ and ‘open your mind’.

As usual the casting is diverse and the message is far-reaching – it’s a rallying cry for individuality in a world rife with discrimination. Here, Nicola Formichetti explains exactly why the message of the iconic campaign needs to be revived now more than ever.

Of all Diesel’s past campaigns, why did you choose to revive ‘For Successful Living’?

Nicola Formichetti: ‘For Successful Living’ is an iconic Diesel campaign, I think everyone remembers it in a way. It represents one of the most memorable moments in Diesel’s history and yet it still feels so relevant today. There is this underlying positivity to it that is so needed right now; I believe now more than ever is the right moment to consider what it means to be successful these days and, with a touch of fun, it’s all about having a positive outlook and being true to yourself.

Why is it so important for you to push boundaries with your ad campaigns?

Nicola Formichetti: Creativity is such an important part of what we do – it’s actually right at the centre of it. Diesel is the one brand that has always been pushing boundaries in advertising; we did it with the sailors kissing that were shot by David LaChapelle to be stupid and, of course, with ‘For Successful Living’. Now, we have somehow updated this message for the digital world: #forsuccessfulliving is a set of fun guidelines for being brave in this world that needs it more than ever.

How would you define personal success?

Nicola Formichetti: It’s a very hard question, but I really believe that the answer is quite simple – it’s when you are truly happy with yourself. Being true yourself is definitely what matters the most and the path to happiness!

Do you think today’s youth are as rebellious as 90s youth?

Nicola Formichetti: Yes and no! I think the world has changed and rebellion per se is probably not as relevant as it used to be. There are many new ways of rebellion because youth always finds ways to rebel; these days, being positive is the most authentic rebellion. It’s not about being against something, it’s about being for something, so support your friends, stand for something and make yourself heard!

Which is your favourite of the #forsuccessfulliving rules?

Nicola Formichetti: It definitely has to be #9 – Be brave! I have had to be brave several times in my career, from starting at Dazed to Gaga and now with Diesel. It’s always rewarding to go for what you believe in the most!

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

Nicola Formichetti: Be yourself! Don’t try to mirror others because the only way to successful living is to truly be who you are, be proud of it and keep faith in yourself.

What advice would you give to young people finding their identity?

Nicola Formichetti: Listen to your inner voice because it’s always right. That gut feeling really is important, so you have to listen to yourself, be yourself, make mistakes, learn from them, make more mistakes and be on the path for successful living on your own terms.

In celebration of Diesel’s #forsuccessfulliving, Dazed are hosting an Instagram giveaway of 70 pairs of tickets to the upcoming Diesel event on November 17th. Winners be contacted by DM and instructed on where to collect tickets for this exclusive event featuring performances from the Kills and sets from Special Guest DJs.