We may know Renzo Rosso for his gen brand Diesel, which is very rock and roll. The brand name It was founded in 1978, but really made waves in the 1990s for its dark style, European elegance and elegant texture. Diesel also introduced a method called “Divore Denim”, which became the trademark for distressed denim. Today, Diesel is headed by designer Glenn Martens, and their latest runway show was a hit at the recent Milan Fashion Week.
Today, Rosso is a fashion mogul as president of OTB Group, the parent company of brands such as Viktor & Rolf, Jil Sander, Maison Margiela and Marni. Fashion is the name of his game. Now, Rosso and his son Andrea have collaborated on the renovation of the Pelican Hotel in Miami, the city’s fashion-forward beach destination.
According to Rosso, it was one of the first fashion boutique hotels when it first opened 30 years ago. “I fell in love with the Art Deco district,” Rosso told me. “The beautiful contrast between the rotten neighborhood and the fashion shoots in the light of Miami – I decided to open something important.”
The Pelican Hotel is an exercise in fashion branding. Step into this Ocean Drive hotspot to see hotel hospitality spread from head to toe in diesel – from socks to hats. And the pieces feature a variety of brands, from the Old Glory piece inspired by the brand’s tumultuous 1992 denim collection. “It was a collection inspired by 1950s American denim workwear,” says Andrea Russo. “The room is draped in denim to allow guests to feel fully immersed in the world of dance.”
No wonder it’s called the “Diesel Hotel”. The lobby has a display case with diesel bags, watches and luggage tags. The staircase leading to the rooms contains an archive of over 100 photographs of Diesel’s advertising history, from their billboards to their 1990s Vogue ads. “The hotel was originally designed by Diesel’s creative team, and the people who work there have been brand ambassadors from the beginning,” said Renzo Rosso. The brand is having fun with celebrities around the world asking them to wear Diesel, so they are proud to wear Diesel today.
It is also timely. Rosso says a new diesel boutique will open soon in Miami’s Design District, and he’s also considering opening a smaller diesel store in the Pelican Hotel. All these low-key tidbits make you want to know more about the brand. It took Rosso and his son Andrea two years to transform the 32-room hotel, which recently reopened in December, into a masterpiece. As a fashion collection destination. Not because of its Instagram-worthy pieces, but because fashion history spans these halls.
Rosso bought the historic hotel, built in 1948, in 1990 and opened it in 1994. It was a time when Gianni Versace, the founder of the Versace brand, lived on the streets. Rosso and Versace were friends. “I miss the times when we were both in town renovating our respective properties, and we would meet for breakfast at the News Cafe on Ocean Drive and talk about different things,” Rosso recalls.
Once Rosso transformed this Art Deco hotel into the Pelican, it quickly gained a reputation as the go-to South Beach hotel for fashion insiders like Naomi Campbell and Helena Christensen. Insiders of the Ford Modeling Agency also stay here, and many fashion shoots have been held in these halls.
The rooms have an anti-establishment feel, perhaps because of the touches of high-quality furniture from the 1930s to the 1980s. In one room called Go Bananas, the walls are covered in a retro banana leaf print, while the large bamboo room is covered in retro glamor inspired by old Hollywood film sets. “Each room has references to Hollywood, Las Vegas, Westerns, 1960s space movies and tiki island vibes,” said Andrea Russo.
To Rosso, Miami is becoming a fashion collection destination every year. “Since the 1990s, the city has been growing and growing,” he said. “Over the past decade, Miami has become a hotbed for the world of fashion and design. From Art Basel to the Design District and Wynwood, it’s a place where a mix of cultures come together. Miami is an engine of creativity to be inspired.”