Fashion's next frontier
ALL THAT SHNAZZ - Alexei Villaraza () - September 25, 2011 - 12:00am

NEW YORK ?— It was ?definitely ?an Andy Sachs meets Miranda Priestly moment. The day before meeting Nicola Formichetti, I had neither heard nor known anything about him until a friend told me that he is Lady Gaga’s BFF and fashion director who has worked with her on several magazine spreads and music videos, including the latest one for You and I.

For the Mugler runway show last year, Nicola designed a set that featured clustered columns and arches. Although guests in the event had difficulty seeing the clothes, the stage gave a perfectly framed view for those who watched the live video streaming on the brand’s Facebook page. They were also treated to a 45-minute behind-the-scenes pre-show footage. In a Women’s Wear Daily article, Nicola said, “I design digitally, I communicate digitally, I live digitally. And I wanted to incorporate that into the brand.” 

And that, he does. His Tumblr site shows photos of the Spring/Summer 2012 Mugler shows. If you become a fan of his Facebook page, you’ll discover that he invited visitors to his pop-up store to be part of a photo shoot by Japanese artist Eisuke Negishi. On Twitter, you’ll read about his Nicopanda merchandise and find links to features on his styling work. Recently, he launched a Twitter competition that had 25 New York-based followers join him for a Japanese breakfast and a personal tour of the new collection of Japanese fashion retail giant, Uniqlo.

The author Alexei VIllaraza with Lady Gaga’s and Uniqlo’s fashion director Nicola Formichetti

The UNIQLO Innovation Project

Nicola knows his technology from his textiles and understands that they can work together. As fashion director of Uniqlo, he recently launched the Uniqlo Innovation Project in the trendy Tribeca district in downtown New York.

The event was held at the style maestro’s pop-up shop, aptly called Nicola’s. The store, completely covered in floor-to-ceiling reflective surfaces cut in prisms, housed, among other things, some of Lady Gaga’s outfits used in some of her music videos and performances.

The setting was a perfect venue to showcase Uniqlo’s futuristic approach for the Uniqlo Innovation Project. Aiming to take clothing to a new level and produce better garments through the use of cutting-edge materials and technologies, the clothes produced represent the ultimate in everyday apparel, pairing universal designs with functionality.

“The inspiration behind the Uniqlo Innovation Project was to develop functional fabric,” he said. “Not about trends or a new silhouette. For us, it was very important to work on materials that were practical, comfortable, simple, and technological. We wanted this to be the standard for our future collections.”

Uniqlo will be working with a number of third-party talents for this project, such as Kashiwa Sato and Naoki Takizawa, as well as a wide range of leading international companies headed by Toray Industries, Inc. 

The clothes of tomorrow, today

The jackets, shirts, and pants in the Uniqlo Innovation Project are all designed with a basic, no-frills approach and have a host of functions that are practical in any weather condition —  hot or cold. 

The fabrics used boast different technological features. They are anti-microbial, repel rain and other water with a durable resin finish, protect from UV rays, prevent perspiration-induced moisture from accumulating in clothing, quickly absorb and dry up moisture, block wind and prevent water from soaking into the clothes, and can be stretched to fit without bagginess.

Weather proof: The jackets, shirts, and pants in the UNIQLO Innovation Project are all designed with a basic, no-frills approach and have a host of functions that are practical in any weather condition.

The Dry-Ex crewneck long leeve shirt, for example, is made with dry-ex, a fabric developed jointly with Toray. It has a unique, arch-shaped construction that instantly pushes perspiration out for even greater breathability. Its three-dimensional cut allows easy arm movement, while a mesh fabric used for the underarms wicks moisture away.

Another example is the warm-up shorts, which are made using dry fabric that absorbs moisture and quickly dries. The shorts retain their dry, comfortable touch even after heavy perspiration.

Nicola’s personal pick from the collection are the IPG leggings.

“I love them because sometimes I wear leggings under a suit so when I take it off, I can go running right away. You can even wear it in the summer and in the winter,” he said. “For me, I like to wear something casual. I like these puffer jackets. They are big, but not too bulky. And since I don’t want to scream fashion, I find that UNIQLO is perfect for me. I mix Uniqlowith Mugler, Jil Sander, Margiela. It’s the perfect brand that offers the perfect style basics for everyone.”

The UNIQLO Innovation project aims to take clothing to a new level and produce better garments through the use of cutting-edge materials and technologies, the clothes produced will represent the ultimate in everyday apparel, pairing universal designs with functionality.

Future Fashion

Just as science, technology, and the way we live are evolving at such a rapid pace, the clothes we use must also adapt to our ever-changing needs. Thanks to Uniqlo’s style visionaries like Nicola, we have a lot to look forward to, judging by the brand’s ethos of creating an ideal wardrobe of clothes you can rely on and trust. Because of them, the future is indeed exciting.  

INNOVATION PROJECT LADY GAGA NEW YORK NICOLA NICOLA FORMICHETTI PROJECT UNIQLO UNIQLO INNOVATION PROJECT
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