Fresh from the pages of The Daily’s special Hollywood issue, and just in time for last night’s inaugural Fashion Los Angeles Awards… During his decade-long tenure as the men’s creative director for Calvin Klein Collection, Italo Zucchelli became the go-to outfitter for Hollywood’s top actors, both on and off the red carpet. Now, he’s turning his attention to the music world.
What made 2014 a particularly special year for you?
Every year is special, but last year we consolidated our relationship with the music world, which I’m very interested in. I like these connections, and they also help me communicate our clothes to a younger, bigger, and cool audience.
You were among the first to discover Sam Smith.
We dressed him for his appearance on Saturday Night Live, and that started our relationship. It was very organic. His stylist asked us to do the wardrobe for the tour, so I did the American tour, then the European tour, and now I’m working on another American tour. He’s getting huge, and I love that, because he’s very young. And he actually likes to wear suits! I love to see his clothes on the stage. And see Drake performing in the sky T-shirt that I did for the Spring collection was also pretty special.
Do you listen to Sam’s music?
Yes! It’s not difficult because he’s very talented.
How’s your singing voice?
Not very good.
Do you play any instruments?
I used to play the piano when I was a kid. I actually went to a conservatory and studied for five years, so I can read music. I still have a good ear!
Is L.A. having a fashion moment?
There is definitely something boiling here. It’s exciting. I always love to come here to research in the winter, and it’s very pleasant and warm. I love to go to the vintage stores and see what’s around.
Any favorite haunts?
I love The Ivy, because it’s just so L.A. There are even paparazzi outside. People don’t even know who [the celebrities] are, but they go crazy. I also like to go to Santa Monica and walk by the sea. The weather is beyond. It’s very relaxed in comparison to New York. The only problem is that you’re always in a car. If you walk, people think you’re crazy. But overall, it’s a good antidote to New York.
You just showed your Fall collection in Milan. How are you feeling during the busiest time of your year?
There’s anxiety, always, but I keep it cool. I don’t like to rush. Showtime is a very enjoyable moment for me—it’s a celebration. I see what I’ve worked on for six months come alive.
How do you wind down afterward?
I usually go to visit my mother. I’m from a beach town in Italy, and she still lives there, so it’s great. We go to the beach, I eat very well, and it’s very relaxing.
This year, you’ve changed your plans in order to attend our awards. Congratulations on your honor!
This feels very good, because [Calvin Klein Collection PR director of menswear and celebrity] Antoine [Phillips] and I are working so hard to identify the people who make sense for us. In the past 10 years, there has been a big obsession with celebrities, but I think it’s most important for a brand to go after quality talent. I believe it’s best to start working with people three minutes before they become famous. That’s what Calvin himself did, and I always admired that.
One of your discoveries was model Clark Bockelman.
He’s an all-American guy with a perfect body. You cannot take a bad picture of him, and he walks and wears clothes perfectly. When you see something like that, in pure Calvin Klein tradition, you have to book him for an exclusive.
You’re a big believer in meditation. Why?
It helps me manage stress, center myself, develop my intuition and creativity, be more compassionate, and start the day on the right foot. I’ve been doing it for 20 years, and it’s an amazing tool that has nothing to do with religion. It’s your own little 20-minute moment to recharge.
You’ve been described as a silly person. Is that true?
Absolutely. All day long, I dance and break everybody’s balls. People always ask me, “How much coffee did you have this morning? Calm down.” I’m very Italian, but I’ve been in this country for 15 years so I learned to be very un-Italian, but sometimes, my Italian-ness comes out with a vengeance. I like to be in a good mood; I like to be ironic; I don’t think life has to be too serious.
You have the phrase “So Be It” framed and hanging on the wall of your office.
You don’t have to fight everything! Sometimes you have to go with the flow and let things resolve on their own.
You’re turning 50 this year. Plans?
I’m either going to have a party or disappear. Age is about how you feel on the inside. Plus, 50 is the new 40!
What makes you proud?
Living the life I always wanted. That’s why I’m happy—I’m expressing myself.
PLUS! The Boys Weigh In On Zucchelli’s Talents…
Francisco Costa: “Italo’s a very talented and amazing person. There is a peacefulness about him that is wonderful. I also like that he has stepped up and takes chances in what he does and how he does it. We’re great partners.”
Matt Bomer: “Italo is generous of spirit, down-to-earth, and intelligent. He’s very curious about other people and the world around him, and that shows in his artistry. You never get the sense that you’re being viewed as a commodity. I’ve spent time with him personally and professionally, and there’s no differentiation in his character. He’s the same kind soul in any environment.”
Tim Blanks: “Italo has managed to inject his hyper-refined European sensibility into a label that is the quintessence of sexy American physicality. Contemporary fashion has been all about hybrids, and Italo’s is one of the most successful.”
Stephen Gan: “Italo has been continually successful in translating his clean, chic vision to men’s fashion with his forward-thinking eye, attention to detail, and critical understanding of our cultural zeitgeist and what it means to be cool today. There’s a reason musicians, actors, and celebrities alike are all drawn to Calvin Klein Collection—they know they will end up with a look that is sophisticated, edgy, and classic. On top of it all, he is generous and kind. I am lucky to consider him a dear friend.”
Jim Moore: “Italo has always been on the forefront of innovation, never afraid to explore new fabrics, silhouettes, and ideas. Celebrities gravitate to Italo and his work because he is uniquely able to design modern, minimal, and masculine clothes that feel classic and fashion-forward at the same time. It’s what sets him (and those who wear his clothes) apart from the crowd.”