Text by Renee Gold
Every so often, a fashion maverick bursts onto the scene and defines a decade-a force so unique, you know them by their last name. The late '80s boasted Gaultier, the '90s belonged to Galliano, McQueen was the face of the '00s (and posthumously still reigns!) and now Formichetti (as in Nicola), fashion director for Haus of Gaga and creative director for the French fashion house Mugler (as in Thierry), is king.
If you're not familiar with the newest renegade of fashion theatrics, Formichetti has been responsible for forecasting trends and designing those out-of-this-world frocks for musical juggernaut Lady Gaga. After meeting at a 2009 photo shoot, where "it was love at first sight," Formichetti has synergized with Gaga on her Monster Ball Tour, her American Idol performances and, most notably, the "meat dress" she wore to the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards and the yolk-coloured latex outfit she wore when she hatched out of an egg at the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards. "I'm not interested in dressing movie stars," says Formichetti, who also acts as the fashion director for Vogue Hommes Japan and the stylist and creative director for the Japanese clothing brand Uniqlo. "I love working with performance artists, and creating looks for their art is my passion." He once told Vice magazine: "I hate the term ‘stylist'-I don't just put clothes on people. I have always seen myself as an art director-someone whose job it is to create moods and an overall image."
The 34-year-old designer of Japanese and Italian heritage got his big break working for his idol, Alexander McQueen. The late designer's avant-garde influence is readily apparent in Formichetti's aesthetic, which he dubs "punk-couture opera," and the two collaborated constantly, establishing Gaga as McQueen's unofficial muse (remember those iconic armadillo shoes?) up until his death in early 2010. "When I discovered his work in my early London years, I was totally hooked," says Formichetti, who went to London to attend architecture school but quickly realized that he preferred fashion and nightlife culture. "I tried to sneak into McQueen's shows so many times!" he says. "Later, he commissioned me to work with him to launch his McQ line. It was such an honour. My motto is ‘McQueen for life'!"
Find out why Formichetti doesn't consider his job as "work" on the next page...Since the beginning of 2011, Formichetti has been juggling multiple projects with no end in sight. "I can do it easily because it doesn't feel like work to me," he says. In early January, Formichetti discovered Rick Genest (a.k.a. Rico the Zombie) from Montreal and made him the official muse for his Mugler menswear line and featured him in Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" video. "I love Rico!" he says. "From the time we started talking, he was so polite and really cares about his art. His dedication is very similar to Lady Gaga's."
In May, Formichetti collaborated with M.A.C cosmetics on its Viva Glam AIDS campaign. More recently he unveiled The Masterpiece, a "wearable piece of art" that he designed for Gaga from profile photos of fans of the charity. His magnum opus was a two-week opening of his "pop-up shop" during New York Fashion Week that was designed solely with mirrors, selling everything from Mugler fashions to a series of Nicopanda and Zombie Panda T-shirts, iPhone cases and rings that are still available on his online shop, nicolaspopupshop.com.
Formichetti is also a huge Internet fan, Twittering multiple times a day and uploading photos on his Tumblr account for legions of followers, which he adores. "I have made so many virtual friends," he says. "I just want to spread love and positivity."
You can see his latest work, entitled Gaga's Workshop, until January 2, 2012, at Barneys New York; the store's Madison Avenue windows are also dedicated to the theme.
For the first time ever, Barneys New York will convert an entire floor for the holiday initiative, selling small gift items-from candies and toys to apparel and accessories-that have been designed by Formichetti. Twenty-five percent of sales from all items featured will go to a charity of Gaga's choice. "I'm very excited for 2012," enthuses Formichetti. "It feels like the start of a new era for me."
THE BREAKOUT STAR
Text by Alannah O'Neill
Brad Goreski's first celebrity client wasn't who you think it might be. "It was Barbie," he says. "I was five years old, and she was always going to a big event." The 33-year-old Port Perry, Ont., native got his start on Bravo's The Rachel Zoe Project, but Goreski has since parted ways with Zoe to focus on his own ventures. "I wrote a book [Growing Up Brad] that's part memoir, part style guide," he says. "I was bullied all through school, and that motivated me to change my situation and create something incredible."
It's this positive outlook that has resonated with fans and critics alike. Goreski was featured in a full-page profile for the style section of The New York Times, starred in a photo shoot for Terry Richardson and has landed his own reality-TV show. "We've finished filming it," he says of the project, which is called It's a Brad Brad World. "I wanted to show what it's like to leave a cushy, high-profile job to go off on your own." In spite of the media spotlight, Goreski says it's easy to stay grounded. "I'll always remember being that chubby kid from Port Perry doing talent shows at the town hall," he says, laughing.
BRAD'S STYLE RULES
Wear colour. "I'm loving neon right now-I have a neon iPhone case, satchel and shoes."
Challenge yourself. "Don't get stuck in the same old routine."
Be brave. "Add a strong lip colour or a bold eye to your outfit-pick something that will grab attention."
It's all about the Canadian tuxedo. "I love denim on denim! Just make sure that the shades of denim don't match exactly."
Fake it till you make it. "If you aren't feeling good, getting dressed up can make you feel better-that's the power of clothes."
THE RED-CARPET STYLIST
Text by Alannah O'Neill
Nicole Chavez was recently crowned one of the most powerful stylists by Forbes magazine, due, in part, to her reputation as the go-to gal for memorable awards-season looks. We caught up with the style maven to talk about fashionable beginnings, chance encounters and her A-list clientele.
First fashion memory "My grandmother used to wear beautiful furs and jewellery, and my earliest memories are of playing dress-up in her clothes."
Professional debut "I was a nanny for the kids of an executive at Disney, who got me a job as a personal assistant in the costume department of a film. I had to fly myself down to Florida and put myself up-and I worked for free-but I fell in love."
California dreaming "In 2003, I was working as a set costumer on the first season of The O.C. and met Rachel Bilson. I helped style her for red-carpet events, and she introduced me to my second client, Kristen Bell. I fell into celebrity styling really organically."
Fave red-carpet moment "That's like asking me to pick my favourite kid! One look that stands out is Katherine Heigl's white Zac Posen number from the Emmys-the year she won for Grey's Anatomy."
Bordeaux beauty "For last year's Oscars, Scarlett Johansson wanted something simple and elegant. I found out just weeks before that she would be attending the show, so we pieced together the look last minute. She looked fantastic." -- A.O.
THE ACCIDENTAL DESIGNER
Simone Harouche's sunny studio on La Brea Avenue in midtown Los Angeles is as artfully styled as her celebrity clientele. The space is all polished oak floors and exposed brick, and an inspiration board-with fabric swatches, tears from Italian Vogue, pictures of Jane Birkin and hand-drawn illustrations-dominates an entire wall.
"Christina Aguilera was my first client," Harouche tells me. "I used to make these cut-up T-shirts in the '90s, when it was cool to attach safety pins to everything, and I knew Christina socially. One day she said, ‘These shirts are fun; can you make some for me?' She started giving me little jobs." A couple of months later, Harouche found herself styling and designing the costumes for Aguilera's Back to Basics world tour. "I was so nervous and it happened so quickly, but I couldn't say no." Since then, Harouche has continued designing, recently launching a successful handbag line called Simone Camille. "I decided one day that I wanted to make one bag for myself, and Nicole [Richie] came in for a dress fitting and fell in love with it. She was like, ‘What is that bag? I need that bag!' So I made her one. And that's how it took off." Harouche grins. "If I've learned anything from these experiences, it's to just go with the flow."