Models backstage at Diesel Black Gold spring 2017. Image by: Imaxtree
The inner workings of a fashion designer's mind.
This season, Andreas Melbostad, the Norway-born, New York-based creative director for Diesel Black Gold, presented a softer take on the not-to-be-messed-with Diesel girl during Milan Fashion Week. We sat down with Melbostad, who does double duty designing menswear and womenswear for the brand, to discuss fashion’s shifting ground.
Interview with Andreas Melbostad
As a director of womenswear and menswear, do you see fashion going to a more genderless place?
“The new generation doesn't see gender in the same way. It’s very liberating. Now, it’s about personal expression. There is a consumer that embraces that exploration. At first, it feels like you’re pushing our envelope then we suddenly realize it has to be a commercial reality.”
In terms of womenswear, this season we saw some blush tones and a little bit of a ruffle. Where did this feminine spirit come from?
“I love thinking of our girl, she’s empowered, she’s quite strong, she’s got a bit of a rock-y reverence to her. But I still like to say she can be super feminine, but she’s in control of this femininity. She’s using it to her advantage.”
Looks from the Diesel Black Gold spring 2017 collection.
How do you continue to reinvent something as classic and ubiquitous as the leather jacket again and again?
“That’s a great question because every season, there’s a certain type of product that we return to and look at again. I love iconic pieces—a biker jacket, a bomber, a pair of jeans. So then it’s, ‘how do we play with it?’ We take a studied approach to cut a garment up, reshape it and push the volume. Sometimes it’s about taking two iconic pieces and creating a hybrid.”
So how do you take something utilitarian and make it desirable and luxurious?
“I’m not driven by luxury, actually. It’s more about value. The codes can be gritty, urban and a bit street or rock ’n’ roll, but we want to give the clothes a sense of nobility in the way we approach them. It’s not a question of doing a high-end fabrication, it can be a very honest fabrication. It’s more the intellectual approach of how we cut, construct and shape the design to give a new dimension to something that is, in a sense, very honest and straightforward.”
What do you mean when say ‘honest?’
“It’s about utility, a function in life. Take the way I dress myself: I wear denim because I like the way it looks but also it’s durable, its tough, I like how it ages. I like the attitude of someone approaching dressing like that and it informs and inspires the collection. And it’s not that everything is denim, but it sets the tone for the kind of wardrobe that’s built around it.”
What keeps you inspired?
“It’s very hard to say. I’m inspired by things I’m not necessarily aware of. You travel, you meet people, you see things; it’s an evolution. When we do a collection, there’s a sense of never being satisfied. You always feel like you’re constantly searching and questioning what you’re working on. There’s a dialogue with people—it can be consumers, the press, a retailer and these conversations influence what needs to happen next. So once I say, ‘OK, let’s do hyper-feminine,’ then I start to look at the Diesel Black Gold girl as a character. She goes to the army surplus store and she starts to mix those references to bring utility into the femininity.”
The job of the creative director has shifted so much. In the years you’ve been with Diesel Black Gold, or even in your whole career, have you noticed a change in what this role means?
“There’s a lot behind your question. The biggest thing for me is that the consumer has changed. The way that the shopper informs themselves and the way they buy fashion is so different. I love this new consumer attitude, it’s very liberating. Today you can shop the whole world, and with that comes a great sense of knowledge. As a brand, you have to think differently, in a global way. I find it very inspiring. I love the idea that shoppers are individuals and are not fixed to certain price targets or lifestyles. As a creative director today, you have to be very open to this new reality."