An Icon Reborn
Andreas Melbostad is an avid collector of books but, he admits with a slightly embarrassed laugh, he isn’t much of a reader. Instead the Diesel Black Gold creative director has filled the shelves of his New York City studio to overflowing with hardcover, picture-heavy volumes on a range of subjects from fashion to street photography to fine art.
“It's a really important archive for me, a source of inspiration,” says the Norwegian-born designer, seated on a sofa at Toronto’s Thompson Hotel. “They can be photography, they can be related to music or countercultural movements that I find inspiring. It could be a book just about biker jackets or books that refer to military uniforms... those are the kinds of things I always love to look at.”
Diesel is renowned for its irreverent and innovative approach to denim, and when Melbostad took over the fledgling Diesel Black Gold label in 2013 he was tasked with the considerable challenge of taking Diesel’s iconic DNA and scaling it up for the runway. By all accounts the designer has exceeded expectations, creating pieces that blend Diesel’s rock and roll edginess with a modern, minimalist refinement.For this fall, Diesel Black Gold’s menswear collection, inspired by a book of portraits of NYC bicycle messengers, features high-tech fabrics embellished with unexpectedly placed zippers and fasteners; classic bombers, overcoats and leather jackets remixed for modern urban life.
“I strongly believe in iconic staples,” says Melbostad, whose daily uniform consists of dark indigo selvedge jeans, a black button-down shirt and a black leather jacket. “I explore the codes, I put them into a new context, and I create new hybrids from them. For me this is the foundation of a modern wardrobe.”
For next season, Melbostad’s dive into the staples of menswear continues with a Spring/Summer collection inspired by portraits of early 20th century tradesmen captured by photographer Irving Penn. Here, a jean jacket in austere dark selvedge is updated with utilitarian pockets and buckles, while slim blue and white hickory-striped trousers fasten with a thick, pattern-matched belt.
“I was drawn to the grace and dignity expressed in the Irving Penn photos,” he says. “I found a lot of nobility in each character captured, and inspiration in how their work uniforms expressed their individuality.” It’s classic workwear by way of Italian denim and Scandinavian design, and in less skilled hands the results could have been unpredictable. Melbostad, however, has done his homework.