Nicola Formichetti On Crowd-Sourcing faces

We’ve always known [Nicola Formichetti](✓&search=nicola+formichetti) to be a man of many talents, be it as the creative director of [Diesel](✓&search=diesel), his former collaborations with Lady Gaga, or recently showing at Made Fashion Week under his label Nicopanda, but it took an in person discussion for us to learn just how skillful he truly is. Formichetti sat down with Zing Tseng, Digital News Editor at [DAZED](✓&search=dazed), for a talk at SXSW, where he divulged a wealth of information about the role technology and social media have to play in his own work and in the world of a contemporary designer today.

Formichetti first started harnessing the power of social media when [MySpace](✓&search=myspace) became popular, looking on the website for 50s rockabilly kids to use in a shoot for [Alexander McQueen’s](✓&search=alexander+mcqueen) McQ for Dazed. Following that, he used [Facebook](✓&search=facebook) for a Uniqlo t-shirt campaign. Most of the assistants Formichetti has hired in his career were people he originally found online. He thinks it’s a more effective way to find out who someone is, "You can go online and find out what their feelings are. Everyone fakes everything on a CV anyway."

Social media proved an integral role in Nicola’s work for Diesel as well, as he has used [Tumblr](✓&search=tumblr) to cast for models, which is where he found [Jillian Mercado](✓&search=jillian+mercado), who became one of the first models in a wheelchair to be plastered onto billboards. He has also collaborated with artists he follows on Instagram for his recent campaigns. Unhappy with the way a Jogg Jeans campaign was originally shot, he contacted Doug (@bessnyc4) to do a reshoot. Doug’s Instagram account is littered with crude celebrity cut outs juxtaposed with striking images, S&M, gender bending, and other controversial content. He uses an app called U doodle and does all of his edits on an iPad mini, which was also the only thing he used for the Diesel Jogg Jeans campaign. "It’s not about what you use… it’s about creativity,” Formichetti cites. Another photographer Formichetti worked with, Nick Knight, took photos on his iPhone for another Diesel campaign, using an app called Glitch. Nick shared a similar ideology with Formichetti, telling him, "Anyone can do it. It’s all the same, it’s about your eye– seeing new things and trying new things."

When Tseng announced to the audience how many followers Formichetti now has on his social media accounts, he chimed in, "I don’t like having too many followers; I think it’s really important to know your followers. I want to communicate with all of them." The intimacy he has with his followers was an instinct he learned from his days with working with Lady Gaga, who inspired him to start using it as a tool, and who has been known to be highly engaged with her fans, specifically on Twitter. Formichetti also cites Gaga as the person who pushed him into the lime light as a public persona, and the reason why his large followership exists. He strives to keep a connection with all of his followers, despite the growing size, and understands their importance. "I listen to them more than journalists. It’s like talking to your friends, it’s like your friends say, "’C’mon don’t go there… or you should do that, we love it!’ It’s like you have a gang of friends all around the world and it’s really beautiful. I really use them in my work."

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