Nicola Formichetti on Digital Sexuality and Diversity

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Diesel S/S16Photography by Santiago and Mauricio

The creative director of Diesel talks promoting on PornHub and why fashion has a responsibility to document reality

“It was Oliviero Toscani who taught me how powerful advertising can be,” explains Nicola Formichetti, the creative director behind Italian powerhouse Diesel. “I met him back when I was at Dazed and he’s like my hero, because he understands the importance of advertising not just being about the product.” Toscani, the man responsible for the highly controversial Benetton adverts that documented everything from the deathbed of David Lawrence Kirby from AIDS to interracial couples with their children, has had a visible influence on Formichetti’s own output; since he took the reins at Diesel, their advertising campaigns have had a distinctly avant-garde appeal. Whether exploring digital sexuality or tongue-in-cheek slogans exposing the artificiality of consumerism, the brand has now found itself at the forefront of modern advertising. In light of their new campaign – which will be featured on the likes of PornHub and Grindr, as well as the more conventional platforms – we spoke to Formichetti about documenting diversity in the modern age of digital first publishing.

On advertising on PornHub…
“Diesel were the first brand to advertise on Grindr, and this season we’re going to advertise on PornHub. Grindr is the one that all my friends talk about; they’re always on it, and PornHub is the same – we might not talk about it as much, but that’s the one we spend most of our time scrolling through so it just makes sense to advertise on there. Plus, their rates are very reasonable...”

On digital sexuality…
“This whole Grindr, Tinder phenomenon has changed all of us – all of my friends are always swiping through people on their phones, but they never actually meet anyone. Things online are becoming better than reality, everyone’s profiles look great but they’re all airbrushed. I wonder when there’ll be a backlash, when everything will have to change...”

On documenting diversity…
“I think that, in fashion, it’s important to talk about the world that we’re living in. We all come in different sizes, colours and sexual preferences, and we have a responsibility to talk about what’s happening in the world today. That’s what I always loved about Mr Toscani’s approach to advertising; through fashion, we have the ability to communicate with people. I mean of course we are here to sell a product, but we can also share a message and start a conversation around things that need to be talked about...”