Vintage clothing, unconventional marketing campaigns, collaborations — such as the fall 2002 tie-up with the late designer Karl Lagerfeld — and even employees interviews. They are all in “5D: Diesel, Dream, Disruption, Deviation, Denim,” a book that retraces the Italian denim and fashion house’s 41-year history.
Published by Rizzoli and hitting select Diesel stores, as well as diesel.com, today, the 248-page tome was edited by fashion writer and social media personality Susanna Lau. Priced at $95, the book will then be available through Rizzoli’s wholesale and retail network starting Nov. 19.
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The thick edition opens with a dictionary-style manifesto elaborating on each word appearing in the title and associated with the brand, before Diesel’s founder Renzo Rosso is allowed to pen his own take on the early stages of the brand’s evolution, since, at 15, he started sewing the first pairs of jeans on his mother’s Singer machine.
“In 1978, Diesel came into being. It was the moment of alternative energy,” Rosso said. “We’ve continued with that energy and that fearlessness through to the present. At the core, there’s no difference between who you are and how you identify [yourself].”
Vintage pictures of Rosso spearheading the company’s growth into the Eighties and Nineties are flanked by images of his numerous trips abroad, which in those decades largely inspired Diesel’s collections, as in a denim jacket from 1988 embellished with patches nodding to the Venice Beach scene or Western-inspired pieces stemmed from a trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico. (Mexico, Japan and Russia are other destinations that the book associates with the evolution of the brand’s aesthetics.)
“I’m always curious. Every time I go to a new place, I’m curious to try and find something different — to look at the people, attitude, colors, vegetation — everything….If I’m on vacation in the middle of nowhere, there will be something that I can take back to Diesel,” Rosso wrote in the book.
Irreverent and poignant ad campaigns, as well as editorial images with groups of models wearing vintage Diesel pieces — some of them sourced from the label’s 175,000-item archive in Breganze, Italy — are interspersed throughout the tome, which also features the contributions of a range of Diesel’s employees through small interviews, including one to Andrea Rosso, creative director of Diesel licenses and the son of the founder.
When asked about her fondest memory of working at Diesel, Eirini Giannaki, who works in the graphic design department, said that when her team couldn’t decide between two options for a project, Rosso walked in a suggested they picked “the one that makes you smile.”
Lau also retraced Diesel’s foray into collaborations and branching out to other product categories in a long essay titled “From Head to Toe. Italian Glamour,” nodding to a slogan placed on a hangtag for a pair of jeans in the mid-Nineties.
The Diesel Red Tag project kicked off in 2018 as a series of collaborations with buzzy designers on a set of capsule collections, takes center stage in the final portion of the book. Shayne Oliver of Hood by Air, Glenn Martens of Y/Project, Gosha Rubchinskiy of GR-Uniforma and Samuel Ross of A-Cold-Wall were all interviewed for the section and asked to elaborate on their experience working with and for Diesel and Rosso.
A timeline specifically dedicated to the evolution of Diesel’s denim caps off the tome, including not only the “Lagerfeld Gallery by Diesel” project, but also the introduction of signature “dirty” treatments in 1998 and the debut of the joggjeans in 2011, tapping into the budding ath-leisure trend.
Over the years, Diesel’s history has been celebrated with a range of books including “Fifty” in 2005; “XXX Years of Diesel Communication,” published by Rizzoli in 2008 to mark the brand’s 30th anniversary, and most recently with Assouline’s “55+5 Radical Renaissance” in 2016, among others.