A year ago, most people would have assumed that a non-fungible token was a Silicon Valley mushroom food alternative, but now NFTs have gone from Reddit and Discord discussions to mainstream pop culture. For Nicola Formichetti – the creative mind who collaborates with the world’s biggest pop stars like Lady Gaga, Rina Sawayama and Kim Petras, and the most niche fashion brands – it was a world he eagerly embraced, before the term has even reached critical mass. “I’ve always been into the ideas of cyberspace, futurism and video games. These became my aesthetic as I incorporated elements into my physical work,” says Formichetti. Now, he’s ready to bring the notoriously tech-averse fashion world into Web3, whether the industry is ready or not.
Mixing fashion and technology has always been natural for Formichetti, even if his peers have not understood his intentions. “When I was [the artistic director] from Mugler, I started using Twitter to promote my show and do things on Instagram. People thought I was crazy, but now it’s the norm,” he recalls. Whether at the head of Parisian fashion houses or his own brand, Nicopanda, Formichetti has always been in favor of democratizing his work and bringing his followers into his universe. When he began to dive into digital art in early 2020, Formichetti recognized the same parallels. He had just moved to Los Angeles, exhausted from dividing his time between New York, Italy and Japan and juggling jobs at three different companies. Then the pandemic hit and he was stuck at home, still working on projects, but suddenly with more time than ever. “I went to Google and typed in ‘digital fashion’ and ‘what is blockchain? I knew about cryptocurrency, but it didn’t appeal to me,” he explains. “I started finding artists I could collaborate with. I really felt inspired and thought this could be a game changer.
Going from researching the concept to creating his own seemed like the next logical step, so Formichetti began working with Brazilian drag performer Pabllo Vittar and 3D artist Alejandro Delgado on a series of four NFTs for his first project. . Released alongside Vittar’s latest album, the images feature the artist in fantastical head-to-toe outfits amidst surreal landscapes as rolling waves of water and sand surround him. They are instantly recognizable as examples of Formichetti’s futuristic, avant-garde aesthetic. However, the digital avatars – including one of himself that he made with Georgian artist Gigi Gvalia – might be Formichetti’s most ambitious digital work. The 3D models required a small army of cameras that captured every inch of Formichetti’s body, with the images then manipulated in NFT. The first, titled “ED3N_001,” features flowers exploding out of his torso while the second, “SELFLOVE,” has Formichetti kissing himself, as an act of unconditional acceptance. Both were released in May with a focus on inclusivity and diversity.
Working with queer artists has always been part of the plan and an extension of Formichetti’s ethos, shaped since her early days in fashion. “I’ve always wanted to champion underdogs. I’ve supported young designers that people didn’t know from the start of my career, and it’s the same now,” says Formichetti. the nice thing about Web3 is that everything is co-created. Everyone has a voice, because we do things together. The next step is to bridge the gap and bring these artists into its fashion world and vice versa. But is the fashion industry ready to enter this nebulous new realm? Formichetti is optimistic. “I talk a lot about futurism, but I’m a very nostalgic person. There’s a beautiful saying that goes that you have to look back to move forward. And that’s the key: you have to bring something human to the digital world. This mix will make it amazing, you know?
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