The Palm Angels founder talks about his Jamaica-inspired SS21 collection and the next frontier of fashion.
Anyone familiar with Francesco Ragazzi’s work — both at Moncler or with his streetwear brand Palm Angels — knows he has always been drawn to creative chaos and the joy of the unexpected. For Palm Angels SS21, this unorthodox approach was enshrined in a new form: a limited-edition book zine, published by Rizzoli. Featuring contributors like David Sims and Leah Colombo, it not only provided a sense of permanence in a world of ephemeral digital presentations, but gave the designer a much-needed distraction from the ravages of coronavirus worldwide and, in particular, in his home of Italy.
Below, we catch up with Francesco about his SS21 collection and zine, as well as gleaning his thoughts on the future of fashion in a post-pandemic world.
Great to meet you, Francesco. How has your lockdown been? I know a lot of creative people have been struggling.
Interesting. I mean, it really was definitely something new for everybody, especially me. I was travelling so much and then stopped for basically a year. That’s definitely the most challenging thing during this time.
How have you kept inspired without being able to travel?
That was also very difficult. Travelling inspires me so much. It’s not about where I am but what I can see during the trip. That’s something that was missing, so while I’ve been at home I’ve tried to imagine being somewhere else.
For SS21 you drew on Jamaican influences for the Palm Angels collection. Was that part of your effort to be inspired by other places whilst in lockdown?
I needed to be somewhere else with my mind. If I had to think about the happy place, Jamaica was the first one that would come in my mind, especially because I was stuck in Italy and Italy was very hard beaten by the Covid situation.
That’s very relatable, for sure. So, I love the zine — how have you re-approached the printed format after first exploring it with the Palm Angels zine in 2014?
I would say we kind of returned to the DNA of the brand, from where it was it was born. During hard times, sometimes you need to go back to the roots. It ended up coming out as a full book and I think it’s interesting to choose this kind of media now. [It was good] to represent something that is physical [rather than] just launching the collection with a digital show or a digital presentation.
Yeah, I thought it was great to explore the collection in a more durable way. How did you choose the contributors?
I really liked this idea of representing a physical version of an Instagram feed. So we wanted to have different kinds of contributors from the high to the low, from the well-known to the unknown, from graphic designers to artists to photographers. Putting together such a great team is what made [the project] interesting, it’s about contrasts and the different points of view that all the collaborators had about the book and the work they created for the book.
I loved how the collection itself is very utilitarian but balances that with a sense of fun. Was that joy reflected in the process of making the collection?
I need to have fun when I create something, I go back to this idea of contrast, putting things together to create unusual things — that’s when it’s fun for me, when something’s complicated and chaotic.
Where do you want to take your vision next?
What we did with Spring/Summer was adapting to new times and different situations but also something that I want to continue for the future. I often say that when I create a collection it’s like a movie. So I try to create a narrative with the talents, the characters, the clothing, the setting, and this was the same for the book. I think a book gives a bit more depth to the creation of a collection. Obviously, when times get better I’d also love to do a show again as the cherry on top.
Once we emerge from this pandemic, how do you think the fashion industry as a whole will have changed?
It’s already changed. It was changing before the pandemic and this period really accelerated this change. Now there are no rules. It’s also better for brands to stand out, I think it’s challenging but also gives a lot of opportunities.
Check out our guide to Palm Angels SS21 zine here.
2 March 2021