Hi Francesco! You were one of the first designers confirmed on the Moncler Genius roster — what made you take up this project?
As you may know, I started my journey at Moncler with an internship, and got to work directly with Remo Ruffini, Chairman and CEO of Moncler, on all the creative projects until I became the artistic director of the brand. I owe him a lot, and if I still collaborate with the brand via the Moncler Genius project it is also because I am part of the brand’s family and legacy.
When I first started, Moncler was made of a small group of people united by one vision and the same vivid passion. It is an outstanding brand with a unique heritage. The brand DNA is all about the constant quest for innovation, excellence and creativity that comes directly from its day one; Lionel Terray, a real pioneer, mountain climber and lover, created something that not only meets the cold weather demands to summit mountain peaks, but to also embody the vivid passion that only the brave have when they authentically go beyond their limits. In recent years, the brand strategy was to let Moncler become a synonym for “down jacket”, and I genuinely think we have reached that goal. So it makes me really proud to still be a part of Moncler within Moncler Genius.
I grew up with Moncler so it’s quite natural to integrate its brand essence into my work for the Palm Angels collection with Moncler Genius.
There always seems to be a response to the current situation and emotions of the society within your designs. What is something that has piqued your interest particularly of late?
Palm Angels has been my take on American culture and subcultures as an Italian creative. It has a specific aesthetic that is linked to my home country’s sartorial codes and fabrics blends, but reinterpreted by me. Palm Angels is a style of life, my weltanschauung — a vision with a real human-being behind. So to that effect, I have approached my work at Palm Angels with discipline since the very start, all to ensure that the brand’s philosophy remains precise, values explicit, referencing a deep sense of belonging expressed through freedom and individuality.
I want to be able to create an authentic language based on shared values, so that those who follow the brand can recognise themselves through my creations. Going forward, my dream is to define our brand language to be more distinctive, a lingo shared by Palm Angels communities that can also work as an adjective — representative of a characteristic and immediately recognisable.
Why title this collection ‘The Art of Lightness’?
As much as Moncler’s world is about the mountain, its peak, the snow and the cold, I have reimagined the “highest point” as a non-place where the brightness of light is the strongest, expressed in an extreme white that mimics what you can experience only on a mountain’s peak.
What parts of Moncler’s heritage did you explore in this collection? Can you tell us about the inspiration behind the rugby-inspired story? What are some of the ways the collection captures your love of vintage and Americana archetypes?
The gender-neutral take of this collection is a further exploration of the ‘90s and Americana archetypes. There’s a post-preppy feel, taking elements from those codes and turning them around and upside down.
The rugby-inspired story comes in block stripes, incorporating polo shirts and a reinterpretation of the style that’s oversized and padded like a duvet. Details are also pulled from the classic button-down oxford shirt and used as accents, like button-down collars on zip up puffers or an oxford patch shirt turned into a whole puffer jacket. Every look is highly curated. It all adds up to a take on California preppy style. I would not talk about difficulties when conceiving a collection. There are challenges for sure but those are part of the journey that as a creative I do like to face and experience, from the sketch to the final result.
How would you describe Palm Angels aesthetic as a brand?
Palm Angels was born as a photography book, featuring black-and-white photography I did of the Los Angeles skateboard scene in 2011. This venture was led by my passion for photography as an art of expression, inspired by the laid-back Los Angeles vibe that you could only live and authentically experience in places like Venice Beach. I travelled a lot with my parents when I was a child, especially in the States, so I grew up with this Americana imagery and style of life in my head — those of the West and East Coasts particularly — and that is naturally infused into the brand.
After the book, there was this urgency to express myself beyond the visual and through a brand that could translate the same free spirit I captured in the skaters’ photographs around LA. The name came quite naturally, taking from how the settings were referred to in the book: the palms on the beaches and the skaters that I saw as angels, floating in the light of the Californian seaside. To me that image was so inspiring and evocative that I wrote the name on a piece of paper even without thinking too much about it. There’s this particular picture in the book that so clearly portrays this, featuring a skater with long blond hair that reached the shoulders. Probably without my noticing, he was the one that gave me the name.
After that, the journey from the book to the brand came instinctively.
When is the most special moment that Palm Angels has accomplished? Are you seeking design inspiration via collaborations with different parties like the Moncler x Palm Angels?
I think that the success of Palm Angels comes from its recognition as a unique and authentic international brand without boundaries. The American footprint gave to the brand, especially at the beginning, a specific allure both in term of values and design recognised by the customers. This led Palm Angels to be a brand loved by a strong-numbered community that share the same values and spoke the same language of freedom in the music and art scene. Moreover, the fact that the brand has its roots of inspiration on the Californian seaside is for sure a major reason why there’s an innately international touch. This was definitely an advantage for us because it was as if Palm Angels was born a global brand, a true son of our time. For me LA is a constant inspiration.
Why do you cherish the 90s’ nostalgic vibes?
It is probably because the 90s’ represents my childhood. But it’s not something related to a nostalgia.