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Image / Beauty

Nicola Formichetti on his panda-themed MAC collaboration


by Holly O'Neill
17th Mar 2018
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Italian-Japanese fashion director Nicola Formichetti has had an illustrious career for a man who is only forty. He’s been creative director of Mugler, worked as creative fashion director at Uniqlo and this past December, left his position as artistic director after a four-year collaboration with Diesel. The man who brought us Lady Gaga’s meatdress (and her iconic white lace catsuit from the 2009 VMA’s performance where she drenched herself in blood) has been working on his own streetwear brand, Nicopanda, since 2011.

Last month, I caught a few minutes with him after his AW18 collection show at London Fashion Week to talk creativity, extreme fashion and his new panda-themed collaboration with MAC.

How are you feeling after the show?

Great, I’m very, very, good actually, but I just want to go back to bed.

Tell me about the collection.

First of all, I want to talk about the outside, the actual packaging, it’s incredible. It’s super cute and it’s almost like a toy or candy. It was inspired by pandas so the whole packaging is black and white and it’s custom-moulded into panda shapes. We have lipsticks and lip-gloss, a big range of blushers and powders. I’ve never seen something like this collection before.

For the actual colours of the collection, I was thinking of eliminating social patterns; black and white and polar opposites. I wanted to create something very feminine but to also have things that are masculine. I think today a modern girl wants to try different styles and feelings. So we have beautiful pinks and pale colours and dark colours too. We have this incredible new product called face stickers, it’s almost like face jewellery – like symbols and teardrops and hearts and ribbons and statements that you can put on your face.

What do you think is the collection’s hero piece?

I think it would be the panda face powder. It’s face powder but the outline is a panda so when you open it this colourful panda pops up. In a way, you don’t want to use it, you just want to have it there and stare at it.

Who did you design this collection for?

I never design for someone in particular, its always a mixture of people; people that I know, people that I see, people that I read or listen to or characters. I like to build this group of people that I design towards.

I wanted to do something for people that are not particularly too daring normally, who want to start expressing themselves. I didn’t want to scare people though, so the colours are very easy to wear and to experiment with. You can mix all the colours within the collection and they all work beautifully together. It’s perfect for people who aren’t usually that adventurous with make-up but with this, they can be comfortable.

Did you approach this collection the same way you might approach designing for a new season?

With the whole process of designing, it doesn’t really matter if you’re designing a car or painting or a dress or a make-up line. I didn’t feel like it was the first time ever designing a collection of make-up.

We always start with inspiration and that leads to the feeling of colours and textures and the people who are going to wear it. If you surround yourself with great minds and creative people, it will always work out. If the process is positive throughout, it will show a lot in the collection. You look at this collection and you want to smile and I love doing this kind of positive project in today’s world.

Have you always been interested in beauty yourself?

For sure, for sure, always, always. It’s such a huge part of what I do especially when you’re working in fashion because white eyeliner could change a look completely, to a more soft look, or a lip can change the feeling of what I want to convey in fashion. Beauty will always be part of the creative process. It probably started with me watching my mom put her lipstick on and how it was like finding a dress or doing your hair, she would put on her lip and it was such a beautiful thing to watch. I’m always inspired by beauty.

If you had the opportunity, who would you most like to dress?

Oooh, I don’t know. I’m very into fictional characters, animations, sci-fi movies, things like that. I’d love to work on a movie and create costumes for actresses. I’d really love to do that, to work towards a storyline with a lead person that you know. I’ve been working with Gaga and that extreme fashion and I don’t think I can do better than that with anyone in the world today. I love doing that kind of thing. Maybe I should get into more movies or computer games.

How are you going to switch off now that the show is done, what would you like to do now? Go to bed?

Oh no, no, no, it’s all a rollercoaster for me. Always the show must go on. We keep going all the time because I love what I do. I love creating beautiful things for people and making people smile.

Check out the full MAC Nicopanda collection in the gallery above.

The MAC Nicopanda collection is available from Brown Thomas now.

Obsessed with all things beauty? TheIMAGE Business of Beauty Awards take place next month and tickets are selling fast. To nab yours, click here