By Giulia Piceni. Cover image: Camille Miceli photographed by Jean Baptiste Mondino.
Camille Miceli had been devoted to the creative field from a very young age. Her mother used to work for Guy Bourdin, and when Camille was a kid, she even participated in an external studio shoot with the fashion photography legend. Her father was an art publisher and collector, so intellectuals and painters would often come to join their dinner table, filling the house with ideas about art and fashion.
Miceli has had an illustrious career in the fashion industry, spanning over 30 years. She started working with Azzedine Alaïa at the young age of 16 and went on to work with Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel and Marc Jacobs at Louis Vuitton, where she played a crucial role in the well-known collaboration with Pharrell Williams.
With so much talent and experience under her belt, it’s no surprise that Camille Miceli is now the Artistic Director of the fashion house Pucci. Despite her impressive achievements, she remains down-to-earth and approachable. She recently participated in a talk organised by Istituto Marangoni Firenze, moderated by the Director of Education Francesca Giulia Tavanti, at the Cinema La Compagnia, where she displayed a genuine and friendly approach to both students and tutors.
PLEASE MEET CAMILLE MICELI, ARTISTIC DIRECTOR AT PUCCI, IN A VERY SPECIAL TALK
After the gathering, I sat across from her, with a recording phone and a notepad on the table, ready to collect all the answers to my questions. My voice always tends to tremble when I am under pressure, and I was prepared for that during this interview. To my surprise, I felt no uncertainty or agitation in front of Camille Miceli.
As an aspiring fashion journalist, I had a top-tier personality to interview. Yet, I was there, calmy and passionately listening to her talking about Karl Lagerfeld mood swings, how Naomi (yes, THAT Naomi) introduced her to Marc Jacobs, and even how much she loves the tramezzini at Procacci, the bar in front of Istituto Marangoni Firenze.
Camille Miceli has a priceless quality that allows her to connect with people on a deeper level and put them at ease, which swept my anxiety away. And that’s exactly what makes her the perfect fit for a brand like Pucci, which values directness and spontaneity.
Before I asked my first question and broke the ice, a docu-film I love came to my mind. In Franca: Chaos and Creation, the forever-missed Editor in Chief of Vogue Italia states that to achieve true lightness, you need to understand the dragging nature of heaviness. To fly high and appreciate the wind through your hair, you must experience the weight of the biggest burdens in life.
With three decades of experience going from intern to Head of Accessories at Louis Vuitton and Artistic Director at Pucci, Camille Miceli certainly knows the weight of this complex creative field called fashion. This knowledge helps her appreciate life and communicate her passion for it through her creations at Pucci.
France and Italy are two countries that coexist in your mind and that embody hedonism, the dolce vita – which is also a key feature of Pucci. Is fashion afraid of frivolity?
I don’t think frivolity is something to fear; on the contrary, it is very important. In fact, I think that today, more than ever, it is counterproductive to take yourself too seriously, especially in the creative sector. With everything that is happening now, we need frivolity. We are not doing politics; we are creating things that you are dispensable at the end of the day. It’s a fantasy, and it has to stay that way. For me, it is essential to have this mindset while I create.
Won’t the brand risk losing its depth by relying too much on this concept?
I don’t perceive Pucci’s lightness in this way. It’s like having a plate with a dish inside and some sauce, perhaps coloured, as a decoration. What I mean is that what we create at Pucci’s is not the heart of the story but the mayonnaise around it, and that is its strength.
I agree. I feel that fashion, in general, always needs to justify itself in some way, while Pucci doesn’t have to; the brand’s statement is its lightness.
Absolutely! In this regard, it is interesting to see in Pucci’s archive how Emilio focused a lot on prints, not on shapes: he was not like Cristobal Balenciaga. The vocabulary he created is very intuitive, direct, and immediate. You either fall in love with Pucci instantly or you don’t buy it at all; it’s not the type of garment you need to think about multiple times before making a decision.
Talking about lightness, how do you put this enthusiasm for life into practice in your daily routines? Especially when it comes to work.
It’s not like I’m like that every day. Honestly, I’ve faced some minor difficulties lately that have not been so joyful, and I’ve made an effort not to burden the people I work with. But it’s also true that if I went to the office every day and didn’t feel well, I would go home; it would be unnatural for me to force myself.
The driving force inside me is to shape well-being, to make people feel good wearing what I create, and to do something beautiful for the sake of beauty. I strongly believe that to create beauty, you have to feel good about yourself. I’m not a troubled creative, I’m not like that, I don’t have that personality.
Have any failures or rejections helped you grow?
Yes, of course. For example, when I came back to LV (the second life, as I call it). After a five-year break, I thought the company had stayed the same as I had left it, but it had grown significantly. At that time, I had to fight a lot as I was trying to impose things I was doing that I felt were important not only for the image but also for the future of the business; it’s always easier to create a 100-euro logo than to make something that expresses a house but costs a thousand. Many people didn’t share the same vision, and at first, I felt a little frustrated. Then, I decided not to identify myself so much with the brand, and surprisingly, that’s when things became more interesting. I continued to do what I thought was right and what I liked while also having to compromise on some sellable accessories.
Were there any mentors in particular who helped you focus your choices?
Well, there was Azzedine Alaia, with whom I did my first internship at 16, and Karl Lagerfeld, who taught me so much and gave me great creative freedom. Another person who played a pivotal role was Marc Jacobs, as he literally pushed me into this industry; without him, I wouldn’t be here now. Oh, and then there’s Naomi Campbell – she introduced me to Marc!
That’s really interesting! One last question: are there any key pieces of advice you received during your career that you still follow today at Pucci?
Karl Lagerfeld was the marketing man. I learned a lot from him in this area. Let me share a story with you. It was the early 90s, in the no-logo period with Prada, the Japanese and Helmut Lang. One day, an article was published in the Herald Tribune titled ‘Chanel bag is over’. When Karl heard about it, he called me and told me to go and buy the Herald Tribune ad page and show it to our Chanel critic. In front of her, he drew a beautiful sketch of a Chanel bag with ‘Chanel Forever’ written on it. At that point, he asked me to order 60 classic jersey bags in all colours that we would distribute at the next show. That’s what Karl taught me – how to take revenge in style.