Ferdinando Verderi understands that to impact the fashion landscape we need to delve into the diversity of a lived experience—what we don't yet know about ourselves and our world. The lauded creative force and former Vogue Italia creative director today has pioneered a new type of creativity, one that is focused on inclusivity and community. Whether envisioning an iconic magazine cover or conceiving a groundbreaking Prada campaign, Ferdinando aims to challenge boundaries—not merely advance marketing agendas. In this episode, he shares with Christopher Michael his thoughts on what it means to be "contemporary" and why it is not enough for him to be an interpreter of the zeitgeist. Ferdinando believes the timeless and multidimensional moments creatives choose to examine, elevate, and share are far more transformational and stimulating than the "new."
Episode HighlightsFerdinando’s minimalist personal website is a reflection of his strong desire to stay in the present, unfettered by the noise.Whether working with a magazine, institution, or company, Ferdinando infuses it with his hallmark irreverence and disregard for status quo expectations.Words of wisdom: “Try to avoid having to explain why you’re relevant!”Brand logos as vessels for energy, ideas, and originality—not marketing exercises.Community-building, values, and ideals are the defining elements of a brand, as opposed to strategic marketing conventions.Magazines have, in his view, an obligation to create a type of “clash” between superficial and more profound levels at which fashion can operate as a force for change.A single cover image can combine provocation and emotion—actions that imply a sense of risk-taking and the courage to go out and break bounds.Breaking bounds can open the way to new forms of expression and inclusivity without intimidation. It’s about challenging things that have felt unchallengeable.Magazines in today’s culture: A forum for revisualizing what irrelevance looks like.Fernando sees his platform—and the work of fashion generally—as a vehicle for highlighting social issues and challenging damaging tropes.Publishing, branding, seasonal platforms, products: Ferdinando sees each project as a discrete opportunity to explore layers and complexity without a single point of view.Coming to fashion without a rich background and extensive training enabled him to deploy a fresh perspective and challenge received wisdom.Multiple points of view: Ferdinando’s signature superpower is his ability to create community through multiplicity and fragmentationThe idea of a mistake, a chance, or a variation, inspires recognition that we live in a multiverse of perspectives and experiences.For Ferdinando, “What’s Contemporary Now ?” is what exists among us at a particular moment in time—not something old or new, but what’s seen in the present.“New” is not an idea, and trying to get there can become artificial—the opposite of fresh.The concept of “new” versus “old” limits us to a linear understanding of time and reduces access to the regenerative arc of wisdom and ancient knowledge.Interpreter of the zeitgeist? No! Ferdinando thinks of himself as a contributor, which is to say a more active participant in shaping what’s contemporary now.