Francesco Risso wears his own clothing.

Photograph by Francesco Risso.

In an era where seemingly everything is mined for inspiration—or, let’s be frank, appropriation—what does it take to be truly one of a kind? A willingness to break the rules is essential; a strong sense of personal style certainly doesn't hurt; but most of all, you need to have a truly meaningful point of view. At W we are all about celebrating originality, which is why we’ve rounded up some of our favorite people who are constantly pushing boundaries, and asked them to share valuable insights. They may be just starting out or in the prime of their careers, but they are all leading the conversation in their chosen fields—whether it’s fashion, art, film, music, photography, or even skateboarding. The bottom line is that, regardless of their differences, they all share one very important trait: for them, standing out, rather than blending in, is not an option but a necessity.

Francesco Risso is the creative director of Marni. He took over from Consuelo Castiglioni at the house's helm in 2016, at the age of 33.

What is originality to you?
The most original thing is the way everyone invents their own version of reality and all of the games we create to keep busy and then share with other people. All forms of play, distraction, construction, making, and destroying…the way we construct and deconstruct reality.

Describe originality in three words.
Originality is subversive. It is an impulse, and it is rare.

Who is an Original?
Children are original. They invent things from nothing.

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What’s the best fashion advice you’ve ever received?
Feed your creativity as if it were a sacred fire.

Who is your beauty icon?
I don’t have one only. They change often, but what they all have in common is that they cannot be ignored—their beauty is disruptive.

Who is your style icon?

What was your first major fashion purchase?
It wasn’t a purchase—I actually stole it. It was a Mao jacket.

What’s the most prized possession in your closet?
My friend Frankie’s blue oxford cotton shirt, probably from the ’40s. It is disintegrating from use, but for some reason it’s just right, always.

What was your style like when you were a teenager?

Who was the first person who made you realize you could break the rules?
I grew up in a family where the motto was “Break the rules.” I have no notion of the opposite.

When should you never break the rules?
In a relationship.

What’s the most original item in your apartment?
A paperweight of my partner Lawrence Steele’s testicles cast in bronze by the artist Sarah Lucas.

What is the most original item in your closet?
The leftovers of all the clothes that I cut and destroy every day.

What is the most original thing someone has ever taught you?
My father taught me how to debone a fish while blindfolded.

What’s the most original outfit you’ve ever seen?
Marc Jacobs dressed as a camel toe.

What is your favorite synonym for “original”?

Give an example of when the original was better than what came after.
Better the Spice Girls than Geri Halliwell.

What is the most original thing you’ve ever sent down your runway?
An opera symphony interpreted by cats.

What’s the most original thing you’ve seen on any runway?
John Galliano’s end-of-show bows at Dior.

Who is the original supermodel?
Leonardo’s Mona Lisa.

What is the original It fashion item?
A newspaper or a baguette.

Related: The Exuberant World of Francesco Risso, Marni's Design Darling