“I wanted to break the form and vandalise the classic Moncler jacket,” says Palm Angels founder and Moncler artistic director Francesco Ragazzi of his new FW19 Moncler Genius collaboration. Tying together the two brands, the resulting unisex collection, 8 Moncler Palm Angels, riffs on the idea of disrupting art via the idea of a vandalised Jeff Koons exhibition – combining Moncler’s progressive design techniques and silhouettes with Palm Angels’ disruptive, DIY ethos.
And it’s a move that marks a neat full circle for Ragazzi. Having first started working at Moncler over ten years ago, the designer has moved up the ranks from intern to his current position as artistic director at the Italian luxury brand. While, in 2015, Ragazzi launched his own label, Palm Angels, first as a coffee table book documenting LA’s skater culture before evolving the project into a fashion line the following year.
“I like this idea of breaking the purity of an art gallery…”
Best known for his glossy balloon animal sculptures, Koons rose to prominence in the 1980s, with his works attracting much controversy for their extravagant price tags – he is currently the most expensive living artist with his Rabbit sculpture fetching over $91 million at auction – a reputation that has attracted vandals to target his works.
Within Ragazzi’s Moncler collaboration, this reference came to life in a special presentation during Milan Fashion Week earlier this year, teaming up with artist and choreographer Willi Dorner, the pair created a gallery and lined up a series of models wearing metallic, oversized ski suits – merging the iconic Moncler down jacket with Koons’ cartoonish creations. Here, guests were invited to douse the collection and venue in spray paint with the push of a button.
Cristian Burbano: How have you found juggling things between your role at Moncler and with your own brand, Palm Angels.
Francesco Ragazzi: I certainly had to review and revise my time, I am definitely more involved in Palm Angels right now than I used to be with Moncler. I was going every day to Moncler, whereas now I’m going once a week for meetings. So the focus now is on Palm Angels.
CB: How does your Moncler Genius collection differ from when you work on mainline Palm Angels or Moncler lines?
FR: It’s really similar, for me, it’s about creating a vision. It’s about having an idea and trying to develop it almost like a movie; creating a story, the characters and how they dress. This helps me in terms of creating the event, creating the collection and creating a narrative.
CB: What aspects of Moncler and Palm Angels did you bring into the collaboration?
FR: I wanted to work with the DNA of Moncler, especially the down jacket. I tried to bring a little bit of disruption to what they do through my idea of having an art gallery being vandalised, and I used the same concept with the collection – I wanted to break the form and vandalise the classic Moncler jacket.
CB: And that reference comes from people actually vandalising Jeff Koons’ artwork, right?
FR: Yes, I was inspired by the fact that a few times his exhibitions have been vandalised. I like this idea of breaking the purity of an art gallery, so this is the same kind of concept that I used for the Moncler Genius event (a presentation in Milan this past February). I am very interested in an artist that can become like popular culture, shifting the boundaries of art to become a global name.
CB: Art galleries can often be seen as quite serious and clinical spaces, but you wanted to add an element of rebellion through the spray paint?
FR: For me, it was the first time I had to do a presentation because I usually do shows. I needed to create something for the people that attended the event, they should walk out with an emotion; did they like it or did they not? I wanted to create opinion, a reaction. I said, why don’t we have the people vandalise the artwork and the gallery themselves. It’s the nature of Palm Angels to be rebellious, I don’t like cliches and if I use cliches I like to break them, that’s the nature of it.
8 Moncler Palm Angels is available here.