Dazed speaks with the skate-inspired label’s founder about his latest collaboration with MonclerMoncler
In 2014, Francesco Ragazzi, the then-full-time creative director of Moncler, debuted his first book. Named Palm Angels, the coffee table-worthy publication documented Los Angeles’ skate-culture through a series of black-and-white images snapped by the designer, who also counts photography as part of his skill set. With a foreword written by Pharrell Williams, Palm Angels was acclaimed, adding fuel to an idea that Ragazzi had already been formulating. What followed was a no-brainer: Ragazzi – already at the helm of a luxury fashion house and based between his home country of Italy and the US – would turn Palm Angels into a clothing brand, fusing high-quality Italian tailoring with Californian streetwear. “It’s just who I am and what I love,” the designer says – simple.
Ragazzi is bringing the same no-nonsense attitude to his latest collection for Moncler, which hit stores last week. 8 Moncler Palm Angels is part of the second instalment of Moncler Genius; an ongoing initiative conceived by its CEO Remo Ruffini that invites a roster of designers to interpret Moncler’s outerwear through their own signatures. Other names attached to the project include Craig Green, Simone Rocha and Matthew Williams of 1017 Alyx 9SM. “It was definitely a much bigger collection this time,” explains Ragazzi. “I had the chance to work on more pieces and I really wanted to tell a story.”
For Ragazzi, the 8 Moncler Palm Angels story began with the image of a Jeff Koons dog sculpture being ‘graffiti-bombed’. “I like the idea of taking something so pure and breaking it,” the designer explains. “This is exactly what I tried to do with the collection – break the form of Moncler and vandalise it with Palm Angels.” This image is reflected in the metallic ‘candy-wrapper’ finishes on jackets, trousers that quite literally balloon outwards like an inflatable Koons artwork, and tees printed with an image of a graffiti artist mid-tag. Ragazzi’s plan for the future of Palm Angels’ collaborations with Moncler is to continue to steer them down a multidisciplinary route, with his reference to conceptual art an indication of what might follow. “My aim is to build a lifestyle brand that can be translated in many mediums,” he says. “For me, fashion is just one of them.”
A collaborative and multidisciplinary spirit is part of Palm Angels’ brand history: it dropped its first capsule collections of clothes and accessories in this format, with mirrored sunglasses produced with eyewear brand Mykita and a series of Marcelo Burlon x Palm Angels T-shirts. An inaugural mainline offering followed for the AW15 season, putting Palm Angels on the map as a streetwear brand with a new approach. It consisted of 1970s leather varsity jackets and wool cardigans, delicately embroidered with a marijuana leaf (despite the American iconography, all the pieces had an undeniable Milanese finesse). The label even produced a tongue-in-cheek ‘collab with itself’ and set fire to its own merchandise – click here if you don’t believe us.
Through his work with Moncler, Ragazzi is pushing this approach further, bringing 8 Moncler Palm Angels to life through a series of events as part of the Moncler Genius World Tour. First off, Dazed 100-nominated rapper Octavian performed in a secret Camden on the day of the collection launch; and tonight, Moncler are due to stage an in-store cocktail evening in Milan at its Montenapoleone flagship boutique, soundtracked by a set courtesy of London-based DJ Siobhan Bell. We can’t wait to see what Ragazzi and Ruffini will do next.