Moncler Genius Evolution: In Conversation with Francesco Ragazzi

25 April 2019

Moncler Genius unveils its evolution at Milan Fashion Week - explore the new collections with this exclusive interview with Francesco Ragazzi of Palm Angels

Last night in Milan, Moncler Genius took over Via Ferrante Aporti to unveil the evolution of the Moncler Genius project for AW19.

Having debuted last year, Moncler Genius is defined by the singular mission to push the boundaries of the Moncler aesthetic and celebrate the boundless potential unlocked when the world's most prolific creative minds cross paths. Each season Moncler invites a roster of global design geniuses to produce a capsule collection which exists at the intersection between Moncler's enviable legacy in luxury and the geniuses individual design DNA.

Subverting the traditional fashion week presentation models, Moncler Genius instead curated an explosive experience for a guest list of over 3,000 of the planet's most influential tastemakers and industry insiders; an event befitting of the cutting edge and era-defining exploration of trans-national design that encapsulates the Genius programme. Each Genius was provided with an abandoned railway tunnel along the street and offered the opportunity to produce a bespoke interactive experience to present their latest Genius collection to the world. The result was 9 unique installations, each its own tableau in the ongoing Moncler Genius saga evolving in front of our very eyes.

Granted early access to speak to Moncler Genius and Palm Angels Creative Director, Francesco Ragazzi, END. captured the spectacle in real time.

This is a big thing for Milan tonight and a big thing for fashion in general. It really is an honour to be here.

"The Palm Angels installation came from this idea I had of imagining what a Jeff Koons gallery exhibit might look like if it were vandalised," Francesco explains of his space at the Genius show. "I started at Moncler as an intern and worked up to become artistic director. This is a really special moment for Moncler because I think for a while there were always lines that we weren't able to cross with our design and now we are crossing them with Genius. With my collection I wanted to echo that rebellion, breaking that mould."

Collaborating with artist Willi Dorner on the Palm Angels installation, visitors are ushered into a gallery-like space reminiscent of the iconic Fondazione Prada in Milan that houses Jeff Koons' 'Tulips' sculpture. A series of fine art photography of the collection lines the walls, leading to a line of models dressed in reflective metallic ski-suits facing the wall. Every sixty seconds the space would drop into darkness and a visitor was invited to press a red button which doused the walls and the models in paint splatter.

"I wanted to be quite conceptual this season," Francesco explains. When asked who of his fellow designers he is most impressed by, he finds it difficult to choose. "I'm looking forward to seeing Richard Quinn's collection - I haven't seen it yet. I always love what Craig Green does, and of course, it's amazing to have 1017 ALYX 9SM join this season."

Alongside the Palm Angels art gallery space, Francesco's shoutouts were among some of the most expressive and groundbreaking exhibitions of the night. Craig Green's space opted not to present any garments from his collection in favour of creating an immersive art installation that conveyed the message and mood of the collection in a more abstract way - characteristic of the British designer, whose sculptures have been some of the most talked about facets of the Genius story so far. A continuation of the exploration we've seen from Green over the past two seasons of Genius, the exhibition and inbound collection explores themes of habitat and space and whether clothing can be a substitute for these essential components of survival.

Matthew Williams of 1017 ALYX 9SM was a new addition to the Moncler Genius line up this season, and his first expression of the Moncler message was perhaps the most distinct and defining of them all. A clear meeting of minds, Williams' masterfully projected the utilitarianist ideals which have become synonymous with his name onto a range of high-coverage Moncler outerwear. Presented within a carefully crafted, multi-story dystopia, a riot-squad of models spread out across the scaffolded installation, each staring down the lens of the show-goers' cameras; a provocative determinism in their stances which matched the mood of the collection. A disquieting industrial soundscape surged throughout the space, keeping the atmosphere at fever pitch and encouraging the crowds to move quickly through the space. Hotly anticipated to be one of the most commercially successful of the collections for AW19, this Genius debut was a clear signal of things to come from Williams and a display of his well-deserved and self-assured place among the other Geniuses.

The street outside the railway tunnels was alive with frenetic energy, as show-goers enjoyed a drinks menu of Sake and Champagne to a DJ set by The Blaze.

Summing it up as the evening drew to a close, Francesco praised the Genius programme. "It's such an honour to be included as a Genius, it's amazing to sit alongside so many talented designers. This is a big thing for Milan tonight and a big thing for fashion in general. It really is an honour to be here."

The latest collections from select Moncler Geniuses are coming soon to END.

writerEuan Smart