Emanuele D’Angelo is completely upfront about how celebrity connections have played a defining role in the success of the streetwear sold under his 11-year-old brand Livincool. “All the people I met while shooting started to endorse my brand when I gave my pieces to them,” says the Rome native. “That’s very helpful when launching a brand. It’s all about who wears it.”
It’s especially helpful when those “people” include Emily Ratajkowski, Bella Hadid, Elsa Hosk and Sonia Ben Ammar, to name a few. In short: some of the hottest, most casually stylish and most followed women on the planet.
Livincool, you see, started out as a fashion/art/music blog with D’Angelo taking street-style photos at Fashion Week for content, as well as documenting events and nightlife in London (where he was then based) for dough. Soon, editorial and portraiture assignments came calling – enough for him to leave the street-style scene behind and move to Los Angeles (where he remains now) end 2015. Going into “merch”, as he puts it, two years later was purely entrepreneurial. “Brands hire me to shoot certain people and celebrities whom I am (already) friends with, so I thought, why don’t I start something myself,” he explains.
His designs are no frills, to say the least: standard crew-neck tees, cropped tops, hoodies, caps and sporty bikini sets that typify LA’s sunny, basic-is-better aesthetic; all plain save for their trendy colours (neons and pastels, baby) and the brand’s name splashed out in variations of lively block letters. But they sell, as witnessed here at last month’s Livincool pop-up at cult multi-label boutique Surrender that brought D’Angelo to town.
Street cachet aside, the draw lies precisely in how elementary and unfussy every piece is. D’Angelo doesn’t see Livincool as a fashion label, but instead an extension of his photography that possesses the same sort of informality and rawness. “You often see my subjects being pictured while they’re eating or on vacation,” he says. “It’s real life content and not staged. That’s what I like to capture.”
It might not seem far off from the of-the-moment street style photos that he started his career with, but that entire industry has evolved and lost relevance ironically because of social media, he says. “Before Instagram, street-style photos on blogs and magazines were the only way to see the fashion that was taking place off the runways at Fashion Week,” he says. “Then, people started creating their own content and taking their own photos. I stopped doing street style because (everything was looking the same).”
The concept of celebrityhood is similarly no longer quite the same. He says: “With social media, everything changed. When people can create their own content, (they can also control the amount of exposure that they get).”
Unsurprisingly, he singles out some of Gen Z’s most easy-going and effortlessly cool women when prodded to name the next generation of fashion front row stars: the baggy street wear-obsessed Billie Eilish; indie glam R&B up-and-comer Jorja Smith; and the pouty lipped model/ singer/regular D’Angelo subject Ben Ammar. Says the lensman: “Someone is worthy of being in the front row as long as the designer decides that she should be.”
The Livincool front row crowd (clockwise from top left): Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Elsa Hosk, Sonia Ben Ammar, Emily Ratajkowski, and models Astrid Holler and Yulia Rose