Master of the urban uniform Andreas Melbostad has been excelling as head designer of Diesel Black Gold since 2012. Inspired by iconic pieces, whether they be (in) fashion or not, the trained designer offers a rock-solid collection season after season. Glamcult caught up with Andreas during his recent visit to Amsterdam, in the apt environment of an abandoned car park.
What’s the story behind your dark autumn/winter collection?
The story is very similar for men and women, but both also have their own. For men the inspiration came mainly from bike messengers; I live in New York and see them on the streets all the time. They have a certain way of dressing; it’s kind of protective. So I wanted to take that idea in terms of the silhouette. I love iconic garments like the bomber jacket, the biker jacket, and the jeans. We took all these ideas to create new hybrids with them, mixing the references and creating new layers.
The women’s collection has the same urban, but a more nocturnal backdrop. We put together a lot of surprise textures like sequins and velvet. We have the leather again, we have the nylon, and we have the denim of course—core materials that form the starting point. The big news for women was the fact that we moved the show from New York to Milan. In terms of evolution it’s something that we did based on the idea that we’ve now established our identity and spirit. We brought the collection back home.
How was the reception in Milan? Did it feel different from showing in NYC?
It’s different, people were very interested in the project and it was viewed as something positive; a positive injection and a positive voice, so I think it was a good moment. A few years ago it might have been more difficult. People now appreciate it and were happy to see this. From what we hear and what we feel, Milan is having a bit of a moment right now in which it’s getting more energy in itself, so there’s a new approach to the city.
What I think is really interesting about Diesel Black Gold is how it’s always very sophisticated but simultaneously rock & roll. How do you go about finding this balance?
It’s quite a conscious thing. I think our clients can be rebels; they are attracted to counterculture reference and values. At the same time the client appreciates well-constructed quality products. So we really try to find that balance in the total look but also in each individual piece.
Do you still design largely from your home?
Yeah, I think I spend a little more time in New York than I spend in Italy. When I’m in Italy it’s all about meetings, presentations and fittings, that type of work. When I’m in New York I still get a lot of emails, but I can lock myself away from everything and just sit down, do my research and do the sketch work. It’s a complicated life between such different countries, but it gives a nice structure to the work.
So do you get different inspirations from America and Italy?
New York as a city probably feeds a lot of the attitude and personality of the collection. I think in Italy it’s more about the craftsmanship and study of the clothes, more Italian influences come into the development of the product. So it’s two very different sides and I feel like it’s a very fortunate combination because I love the kind of attitude of a city like New York, but I also love the care that Italians show towards product development—the way they stretch themselves an extra mile to accomplish something.
What I’m curious about: with Nicola [Formichetti] doing the main line and you being responsible for Diesel Black Gold, do you communicate with each other?
No, we don’t, actually.
So your aesthetics are completely distinct?
There is no professional interaction between the two of us, Diesel is it’s own unit. It has it’s own team. There’s a little bit of crossover on the PR and marketing side, but both really function on their own. I think for me the big inspiration in the company is Renzo [Rosso] himself and his huge heritage, and I’m sure on the Diesel side that’s the same. He’s a very strong character, he has a very strong voice and I think he’s built a very a powerful brand.
When we spoke to you before, you mentioned your books and reading a lot. What are you currently into?
My book obsession is mostly about design books; it relates very much to the work. My obsession can be with photography, art, and design, but also with books that cover iconic pieces such as military uniforms or biker jackets.