Diesel is the mega brand set on world domination. Founded by Renzo Rosso in 1978, the Italian based company has not only corned the market in premium denim with ranges including Diesel, Diesel Black Gold and 55DSL, but also holds a majority share of cult fashion brand Maison Martin Margiela and as well as owing the ultra hip Miami Beach hotel, The Pelican, outright. We talk to new kid on the board, Renzo's 31 year old son Stefano Rosso who is in charge of some of the brands coolest collaborations - think Adidas Originals and a clothing line with French electro star Uffie for starters - on just what it is like to grow up in the fashion spotlight.
* What was it being brought up by an ultra cool dad?
When I was a child, fashion was almost like a game for me and my brother. We used to play around in the design office and jump around on everything. It was only when we became teenagers we started to look at fashion more seriously; at what was cool. We even used to make our own clothes. Street style and action sports were really important to me even then. From my interest in street style the label 55DSL was born. My father realised this was something really important, something that Diesel should be involved in.
* And growing up in a real-life fashion dynasty?
I know all the Missoni brothers and I bump in to the children of other fashion families such as Francesca Versace at big events. They all have a similar international outlook as myself. Margherita Missoni and I were both in New York around the same time so share similar experiences. But in some ways I am very different from them; they grew up in cities like Milan and I grew up in the country near Vicenza in Italy.
* Did your love of American style start when you went to study at the Fashion Institute of Technologies in New York?
It was an evolution for me linked to my love of action sports like snowboarding and motorcycling. Going to study in New York was the perfect match. I was there at the end of the 90s and early part of the last decade and I was able to hang out with artists and experience all the cool things happening in the Lower Eastside.
* What is your style in put at Diesel?
Anything I do with Diesel is always much closer to street style. My father is in to more premium fashion such as Diesel Black Gold and Margiela and mixes that together. I still feel very young and although I might wear a Margeila shirt every now and then, my style is more Diesel and 55DSL
* When did your obsession with trainers begin?
It is strange, I didn't set out to collect trainers but somehow managed to end up with a huge collection of them just because I was always buying them. I still have some from when I was ten years which doesn't make my mother very happy! I became a collector without really wanting to be one. It has it's advantages; I will go back to trainers I haven't worn for two or three years and suddenly start wearing them again.
* What was it like working on Diesel's collaboration with Adidas Originals?
Like a dream come true. I got to look inside their secret archive; they are such an iconic brand with so much heritage. As a company they have the same qualities as we do, they make quality products with innovation and style. It was a really natural collaboration to do. It was my baby from the start and we have been working together for almost three years now. For our five pocket jeans we took their reflective print and put it on to denim. It was still very subtle because I think people want to be able to wear denim every day.
* How would you describe your own style?
My everyday uniform is a vintage or graphic print T-shirt with a marl sweatshirt - even ones from other labels like Bathing Ape or Firetrap - with a pair of regular slim jeans and a pair of Adidas Original trainers. I'm also wearing a lot of sweat pants at the moment. I think it is all about the new comfort in fashion. We have a lot of sweat pants coming up in the next collection, cross mixing them with innovations that make them look smarter, not like something you would wear on a Sunday morning.
* How does music fit in with everything you do?
I'm a Hip Hop fan and love a lot of 90s stuff; I really feel that the 90s is coming back. Also I like a lot of electro like Uffie as well as the Danish underground label Dead Bangers and bands like The Bloody Beetroots. Music is fundamental to Diesel; it is all about rock and roll, wearing a pair of supper slim fit jeans you can hardly walk in!
* What is your perfect weekend?
I'll probably go snowboarding on a Saturday as it is great at the moment and on Sunday I'll have a kick around with friends at football. Sunday night I will have to go to the match as I am President of Bassano football team here in Vicenza. Being involved in professional football in Italy isn't as nice as it sounds because there is a lot of money involved and it is VERY political. It is all about who you know, what you can do for someone and how much money you have. By comparison it makes me really happy to work in the fashion industry!
With a glittering 'Best Designer
Brand' gong from the British Fashion Awards safely tucked away in her trophy
cabinet and company profits nudging the £45 million mark, Mulberry's Creative
Director, Emma Hill, is on a roll at the moment. We caught up her to see just what makes her tick.
* What is your first fashion
I was in the Brownies as a child and was
VERY excited by the uniform. I think the Brownies is
where my love of 'Boukie' comes from, what I call piling on bits and bobs of decoration on to everything. I
love starting with a clean slate and I'm very competitive so I would
win armfuls of badges that my mother would sew on my uniform with her
* What inspired you to become a
School uniform. I swear that's why
British designers are some of the best in the World; we have to learn how to
make the best of our school uniforms. From the age of nine I wanted to be a
graphic designer, well, until I went to do a foundation art course at
Wimbledon. We did a week of graphic design and I just though, 'Oh no!' The
graphics boys were really cute but it wasn't for me. I did a week of fashion
and loved it.
* How would you define your style?
I'm a bit of a chameleon. I loved
working at Calvin Klein in New York and becam a real 'Calvin Woman' . When I
left to go to Marc Jacobs - and this shows how long ago it all was - I used to
send faxes to my friends at Calvin with stick drawings of what I was wearing
every day. They would see my style changing and say, 'You are wearing WHAT
today?" A friend said that I was, 'Born in London but made in New
York'. It's true.
* What is your day-to-day uniform
I'm a real everything-goes-with-denim'
kind of girl. And I have a major shoe thing going on all the time. I change
shoes at least twice a day. And there are more wellies involved now that the
weather in London is so bad!
* What is your favourite bag at the
I'm 'wearer testing' a next season Alexa
in a chestnut shrunken lambskin. I love things that are soft and look warn-in
and loved already. Also I use a 'Tilly' from last season, in chestnut too. I'm
going through a bit of a 'brown bag' stage at the moment. And a Piccadilly for
traveling. I only every travel with one bag, no matter how big it is, with my
son Hudson's stuff and my stuff and everything crammed in to it.
* Now that the whole 'It' bag thing
is over, what's next for bags?
I think that it is all about quality,
heritage and heirloom now, and not only in an expensive way. Having come
through a recession people just don't want to buy loads and loads of stuff
anymore. I designed the Alexa so that no one was going to look at it next
season and ask, 'Why are you still carrying that?'
* How do you define Mulberry as a
I see Mulberry as a casual luxury brand.
I like things to be real. I know it doesn't sound very exciting, but we
want to make beautiful things that women will want to wear. That kind of design
has had a bad rap over the past few years. When I look at a bag I look at how
easy it is to get in to. I don't want to buy anything that requires a hand
servant to get into it. I don't know about you, but I got rid of all my hand
servants last year!
* After almost three years at
Mulberry what would you say was your proudest achievement?
I could never choose just one thing.
Winning the best brand at the fashion awards was amazing and I love the fact
that people are loving what we are doing and our sales figures are so
brilliant. And I love the new New Bond Street store. But I would have to say
that my team is the real achievement. I've spent my whole life in fashion and
let's just say that fashion people are not always the nicest to be around. Now
we have company that is a real brand and a team that is like a family.
* If you were going to give one piece
of advice to someone starting out in fashion, what would that be?
Listen, work really hard and never think
you are above doing anything. Without wanting to sound like an old fogey, I
think there is a lot of attitude out there today. I had a massive work ethic
instilled in me by my parents. The best advice my father gave me was the old
one about always being kind to everyone, you never know who you will meet on
the way down.
* What music are you listening to at
I listen to anything and everything. I'm
a bit 'OCD' and go through fazes when I will listen to the same thing every day
for a week until I go off it. At the moment it is Hurts. I guess my default
setting is the 80's; Scottish Indie like Orange Juice and Aztec Camera as well
as The Smiths, and The Cure.
* A superpower, a new invention or a
multi-tasking gadget; what one thing would make your life better?
A teleportation device would be really
handy. The glory days of travel are well and truly over what with all the
airport security and stuff. But it would have to be a teleport device with a
delay mechanism. I like the fact that at airports there are a few hours when
people can't get hold of you. I love that time. Whoever wants to allow
Blackberries on planes need to seriously think again.
* Who would be your dream passenger
to sit next to on a long haul flight?
Terence Conran - he is a design genius -
and Steve Jobs - I'm Mac obsessed. Oh and Alfred Hitchcock - though he might
need an extra seat!
* What question have you always
wanted to be asked but never have?
Who has been the biggest influence on
your life? The answer: my parents. Confidence is such a massive thing, to
believe you can do anything you want to. My parents gave that to me.
* Tell us a secret about yourself
that would surprise people?
I'm a really good baker. My grand
parents used to own a bakery in Wales.
* Did you bake the Victoria Sponge
cake at the last show?
I would have if I hadn't been busy
backstage! I always get involved with the food tasting for events and I'm very
pinickerty saying things like, 'That's not a true Victoria Sponge.' They just
roll their eyes at me in the office.
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