You Rock My World! is the fifth collaboration between the creative director Niccolò Lapo Latini and the photographer Emanuele Ferrari.
Niccolò Lapo Latini (AKA “Adv Niccolò Lapo Latini”) is a 23-year-old Italian who has been the youngest creative director to be mentioned by Purple France and L’officiel Paris, Sponsored by Babolat.
Emanuele Ferrari is a 46-year-old Italian whose outstanding talent has made him part of the World Top 100 Fashion Photographers.
For this FW21 issue, we had a conversation with these two artists and talked about their lives, careers, values, and motivations. We invite you to keep reading to find out more about this powerful duo and how a desire to transgress and go beyond has inspired them this time.
Desire to transgress and go beyond
VT: You both have amazing careers. What can you tell us about your hard work and journeys on becoming a prestigious creative director and an acclaimed photographer, respectively?
NLL: I owe everything to tennis. I come from the world of professional sport; I have a different nature from my colleagues. I come from the fatigue (physical and mental) – from the victory won point by point – from the psychological stress of being alone on the pitch, alone until the end.
It is incredible what has happened in my working life in these two years, but although amazed and happy with the results obtained, I am aware at the same time of the hard work behind it, of how much sweat I left on the pitch, of the sacrifices made. There is still a long way to go; I have just begun.
EF: Personally, my hard work is there every day. And I think that’s my strength. I am of the idea that you never stop learning and that success is built-in in everyday life, in the curiosity to learn and discover new things.
I am self-taught, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t studied. Indeed, precisely because it is filling, I have faced this world with dedication, humility, and the right amount of curiosity.
VT: Who are your biggest idols, inspirations, or references, and why?
NLL: I believe that the greatest inspiration must always be contemporaneity. An abstract concept, an ideal; a story is always a more powerful motivation than a physical person. What I would like one day – and I’m working for it – is to become my own inspiration.
Do not take it, please, as presumption (he smiles), I am obviously not referring to my work or material results but to personal growth, to the individual maturation of an ordinary young boy in search of adventures to live and dreams to fulfill, trying to become a good man, a happy man. This motivates me a lot.
EF: My inspiration is everyday life, curiosity towards what I don’t know, and the desire to know better what I already know.
My reference points in the world of photography are Terry Richardson, Harri Peccinotti, and Jurgen Teller.
I confess that I don’t like talking about idols but about people who inspire me, who make me feel good, who enrich me. And from this point of view, my absolute idol is my son.
VT: What would you like to say about You Rock My World for Vanity Teen, its concept, and the ways it captures the essence of youth?
NLL: The project contains that rebellious spirit, that desire to transgress and go beyond one’s own dimension that is intrinsic in all teenagers, from the shyest to the most extroverted, a pure feeling – not to be condemned if you can handle and master it – more or less manifested which however belongs to unconditional way to the growth phase.
Music is simply the means. Music is always the means. The best for communicating our emotions, daydreaming, and bringing people together.
EF: My task in this project was to translate Niccolò’s inspiration into my language made of images.
The basic idea was to tell the new generations through their passions, such as music, but to relive a rebellious and nonconformist world of the 80s, which are intrinsic values of youth.
A natural combination
VT: For You Rock My World, you worked in partnership with Reebok. In which ways do you consider this brand fits the message you wanted to share in this opportunity?
NLL: Reebok is without a doubt one of the pioneering brands of sportswear worldwide.
It is the right witness to the emotion I was trying to represent: going beyond, with adrenaline, impetus, and courage. Remembering that pushing one’s limits, being one’s revolution, is synonymous with evolution and a new beginning. Underlining and thanking their extreme availability and absolute involvement in the project, which they have supported with enthusiasm and care since the beginning.
EF: Reebok is a historic sportswear brand, and since its foundation at the end of the 1800s, it has had a revolutionary inspiration: they were among the first to make the so-called “running pumps”, the shoes with spikes.
Over time, it has kept this innovative spirit intact, so much so that in 2015 from Lancashire in the UK, it moved its headquarters to Boston because – they explain – the headquarters must be in a stipulated metropolitan area for young people who work.
Therefore, there is a sharing of values with our photographic project.
VT: Also, You Rock My World is your fifth collaboration. That being said, could you tell us how you met? How has it been working together? And, how do you syncopate your artistic visions?
NLL: When, for professional and ethical choice, I decided to free myself from my former agency at the age of 21 and start a solo career, Emanuele was one of the first photographers I contacted.
He trusted me; he helped me a lot by believing in my project, in my work. But above all, I like to think that he believed in me. Working with him is fun and stimulating; there is lightness in the air and a clear common vision of the goal that gives our productions extreme speed and efficiency.
Despite his great availability and kindness, just like me, he is basically a reserved person. He knows very well the value of sharing. He does not waste his knowledge, but he chooses to share it in small doses with whom he feels somehow closer.
This means that each of our meetings, whether it’s a production set or a simple talk, always contains a lesson and new precious teaching for me that I try to treasure. To describe him, it comes to mind, as a former teenager, a historical script line from the last chapter of the Harry Potter saga by Dumbledore: help will always be given to those who deserve it.
EF: In personal and artistic working life, there are special encounters; sometimes, unlikely on paper, yet so rich and profitable in ideas and synergies. I think my meeting with Niccolò is to be counted among them.
Our first meeting was virtual, through social networks that have the great power to connect people without great distinctions of age, country, position, studies. The network undoubtedly works, but then it was natural to also meet in person.
We are distant in age, yet so close as a way of working and inspiration. Niccolò has an intuitive, creative mind; I would say brilliant. Working together is a natural combination, an exchange of wealth, a constructive confrontation, an honor, and a pleasure.
VT: For years, there were strong fashion standards that are transitioning in the 21st century. What do you think about the ways fashion and beauty approaches are currently changing?
NLL: It is, certainly, an interesting and inevitable turning point. The market had become too saturated with perfection and ideal beauty, which, in the end, often did not correspond to reality. After all, fashion belongs to the people.
It is okay to dream and represent a vision. But the vision must never be discriminating or unattainable but rather inclusive. Surely the advent of social media has influenced and helped.
However, there is a second side of the coin. When you make something accessible to everyone, it becomes even more difficult to find your way around. Everyone today wants to be part of our world (as photographers, models, directors, etc.) because they have been made to believe so.
But we must be careful because having one more chance does not legitimize immediate access, much less success or affirmation. Hard work remains and will always remain the basis as well as natural gifts: only those define quality. Whether there are 1000 participants or 100, the Top 10 will certainly always be the best and most deserving.
EF: I’m happy. I think fashion is evolving in parallel with society: including life, body positivity, diversity, fluid beauty.
Everything helps to better understand the world we live in, the real people we deal with every day. I think that one should be free to call “beauty” what one likes and not necessarily what fashion dictates.
You never stop learning
VT: Despite the success you have experienced, which other plans and goals do you have for the future?
NLL: The goal is to find my own balance and serenity. I come from difficult years full of suffering, and it is not easy to manage this load of emotions every time. At my age, often, you risk making the wrong move or not knowing how to control yourself.
Winning out of anger or out of competition is fine; it is very effective, but surely knowing how to win out of love and passion is far better. I believe my next leap in quality lies there: in mastering my emotions and in the search for my balance.
EF: I think that, in life, you never stop learning. With this approach, I always face the future; the best photo and the best shooting are always the ones you still have to do. My goals for the future? Always take the best photo.
At the same time, I always hope that my curious spirit remains unchanged; I like to look around, experiment, always keeping my identity intact. I do not deny that I would like to publish a book and have a personal exhibition. I’m working on it. Fingers crossed!
VT: As fashion is part of our daily lives, how do you consider your works may make the world a better place?
NLL: I have a theory: our work must strive every day to create the perfect story. This ‘Perfect Story’ is called such because it grabs the viewer, capturing mind and soul. This must stimulate a sensation and an emotion in the viewer.
The sensation (the viewer’s mind) is linked to aesthetics and grace – fundamental concepts of Greek culture and art – which causes well-being and harmony.
Emotion (the viewer’s soul), on the other hand, is closely linked to empathy, memories, love, and fear. Here lies the focus of the project, the message, the goal.
The sensation accompanies you along the way, making it sweet, and the emotion finally captures you, thus creating a deep and sincere bond between you and the story.
EF: I always say that photography is a story. I think that important messages can be conveyed through images, even through fashion shots that are, perhaps, considered more superficial.
Instead, in my head, there is always some very specific storytelling, a small message. Whether it’s a simple message of beauty or something more committed, it doesn’t matter. It’s a drop in the bucket, but it helps make the world better.
VT: Which message would you like to share with those teenagers who might be thinking about pursuing a career in the fashion industry?
NLL: Take this job seriously: self-denial and devotion. Have fun, smile, dream but never let yourself be distracted by what’s around you.
It is a difficult game – ruthless, at times – and you only get to know it well once you are on the pitch. But remember, always be the boat in the middle of the sea, there you do not sink for the water that is around you, but only for the water you decide to let in.
Learn to understand your worth; it may surprise you.
EF: It is a job, and like all jobs, it requires commitment, effort, and apprenticeship.
Many think it’s all parties and glitter, but it’s not like that. I think it takes seriousness, the desire to study, to always get involved. Then, I always recommend being curious, asking questions, traveling, and meeting people.
In fashion, the real inspiration comes from the things you see, from the moments you experience from the people you meet. I am a self-taught photography student, but I have substituted studies on my own for studies on the benches.
VT: Anything else you would like to share with Vanity Teen?
NLL: Yes, of course, I’d like to thank Vanity Teen, the entire editorial staff, and the readers. See you soon.
EF: I think this generation of teenagers must stock up on dreams and ideals, projects, and ambitions. You have to dream big with real-life goals. Social media is a great tool, but everyday life is real life.
Bridges bring us closer
Saying that bridges bring people closer may sound like a common phrase. But when we pay attention to the powerful synchronicity between Niccolò Lapo Latini and Emanuele Ferrari, we realize that they do what they preach. They have a desire to always go beyond boundaries, and each time they work together, they leave behind stereotypes as they strengthen their partnership and bring us closer with their art.
With You rock My World, Niccolò Lapo Latini and Emanuele Ferrari capture the spirit of youth and some of its most treasured values: such as not just living by toeing the line but embracing diversity while we celebrate our differences.
Their work also invites us to keep in mind that fashion, just like bridges, can bring us closer, and we could not agree more.