Jeremy Scott on Barbie, Miley and the F-Word (FUN)
Jeremy Scott is America’s sartorial wild child, providing an aesthetic retort to the stuffy, uptight couture of Paris and all those who declared fashion to be no place for fun. Raised in Missouri, Scott studied at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn before debuting his collection in Paris in the late 90s. From his first foray on the catwalk, the designer became known for his outlandish, avant garde garments. He consistently pushed boundaries of wearability, developing his own tongue-in-cheek visual vocabulary that occasionally borders on the obscene. Scott has proven, however, that his signature style isn’t just a gimmick, but has true staying power. Aside from designing for his eponymous label, he has collaborated with Adidas since 2008, which will expand next year into fragrance. Additionally, over the course of just two seasons as the creative director of Moschino, Scott has managed to turn the brand into one of the most buzzed about shows of all four fashion weeks. Scott is only just warming up; in December he will launch a book with Rizzoli cataloguing some of the most outrageous and iconic pieces of his career. Looking through his body of work, it’s easy to see why the New York Times would dub him, “fashion’s last rebel.” But Scott is much more than that moniker. He invests talent, insight, and an acute understanding of pop culture into every piece of clothing he creates.
In October 2013, you became Moschino’s creative director. How do you think that your vision for the brand is different from that of the original?
The difference is that I’m connected to what’s today, what’s now. Franco’s original vision was more fashion-centric. My vision is more pop cultural as we now live in a global world. I still do nuances about fashion, that’s part of the heritage of the brand. Yet, I also look at a larger vocabulary that’s speaking to the world.
How do Jeremy Scott and Moschino differ stylistically and creatively? Are both collections part of a similar story or completely at odds?
Never at odds, they’re like sisters. They’re not the same, but they have similar DNA. After all, both come from me. This season I was trying to find a personal way of approaching the collection for my own line. I didn’t work the way that I usually do. I threw out the idea of a theme and thought, Let’s do it like when I buy clothes for my own wardrobe. I mean, when you bought your scarf, you probably didn’t think it would go with the jacket that you’re currently wearing, but it works. I also didn’t want my collection to look like an army of models. For Moschino, I had a clear theme in mind before creating the pieces.
You recently premiered your Barbie-themed fashion show for Moschino. How does it contrast with your first collection for the brand?
I don’t think that there’s a contrast, it’s a continuation. Where the McDonald’s theme left off, Barbie picks up in another way. She’s also a global icon. She’s more known for fashion than food, but both can be combined. Barbie worked at McDonald’s after all. She’s had every job—she’s been an astronaut and an employee at McDonald’s. Not many people can say that, but Barbie can! So there’s a connection in the sense that they’re iconic symbols. I also played with elements of streetwear in both Barbie shows, especially with denim. This time I did sequined denim, whereas last time I did quilted denim.
Why does the idea of Barbie appeal to you and what message are you trying to convey by using this iconic female figure? Would you call her a feminist? A misogynist?
She’s another F word, she’s fun. She’s a doll, she loves fashion, she’s meant to be fun. She’s a window for girls and boys to play with, so I don’t take it seriously. That’s the way that I look at fashion: it’s just clothes. There are so many serious things in the world, I don’t want to be one of them. When I was first thinking about a theme for my fashion show, I was thinking about summer and the beach and swimwear. Suddenly, she came to my mind, because Barbie can go from the beach to the office so easily. I even did an outfit with a bikini on top of a suit. So that’s the way that I think of Barbie—lighthearted.
Would you be interested in producing a Ken-themed line?
I never thought about that, but probably. Although he doesn’t have as many fun things to wear, he’s not the dominant one in the relationship.
You also recently launched your Shrek-inspired collection. Were you anxious that an ogre would be out of place in the fashion world?
Honestly, no. I think he’s cute and funny. Also, I identify with him because he’s misunderstood. Everyone thinks he’s mean, but he’s really sweet. Sometimes people think that I’m not nice or friendly too. That’s my connection with him.
Tell us about teaming with Miley Cyrus. What do you think of her as a visual artist and jewelry designer?
She made all of the jewels for my collection herself, they’re all handmade. I love her, I’m inspired by her, [and] I’m happy to inspire her as well. It’s very symbiotic. She really embodies a lot of my work in the sense that she’s got a fun, young, upbeat attitude. She’s doesn’t try to take things seriously. She’s also very genuine.
Things happened very organically between the two of us. She invited me over to her house one evening, showed me her creations, and I told her that it reminded me of my collection. So I asked her: “Would you want to make jewelry for the show, even though I know you’re on tour and everything?” and she said she’d love to do it! She put all her enthusiasm in it. It was so sweet, genuine, and passionate. I couldn’t imagine my collection without those pieces now because they make it feel real. I see boys and girls wearing the pieces and going out to music festivals.
Could there be another collaboration in the works?
Absolutely, I love her to pieces, she’s like family to me.
Anyone else in the pop music industry you’d like to team up with in the future?
Of course, I work with pop artists all the time actually. I usually make things for them. Miley was the first to make things for me. Otherwise, I worked many years with Katy [Perry], we share a real kinship due to our humor and playfulness. Rihanna has also supported me and worn my pieces from the beginning. I love how she can turn things around, like by wearing a boy’s tracksuit and making it look sexy, or by wearing a tank top and turning it into a dress. She has this way of making clothes her own. I love working with these people that I’m inspired by and that I inspire in return. It’s an interesting experience. I also love the way that they touch pop culture and that I can do it with them, through music videos and so forth.
Although we’ve only discussed American pop artists, you are known to be good friends with CL. Has she been an inspiration to you? To what extent does Korean culture influence your body of work?
Yes, CL is one of my muses as well as one of my best friends. Honestly, I don’t think of her as being part of Korean culture, I just think of her as CL! I love the way she wears my clothes and how she interprets the looks and makes them her own—the way she can take a boy’s item from my collection and make it look super sexy and tomboy chic at the same time. She’s got so much style and talent, I’m looking forward to her taking over the world with her music and persona!
Journalists often describe you as forward-thinking and attuned to the interests and desires of youth around the world. Do you still feel like a teenager?
I never really thought about it. I have friends who are teenagers, but I also have friends in their eighties. To me, it’s just about being connected to what you love, and I love pop culture, music, cinema. I love being in tune with what’s going on.
How has your personal style evolved throughout the years?
You know, it hasn’t really changed because I still have items that I acquired when I was fourteen and I still wear them today—which is kind of a miraculous achievement, style-wise and size-wise. Things I purchased in the past still inspire me, perhaps due to the fact that I used to buy a lot of pieces in thrift stores.
Any plans for the future?
By the time this article’s published, my book will be out. It’s a collection of photos from my career, from the first collection to today, showing off different photographers, different models, different times, all in one book. It’s been a labor of love. Not easy to put eighteen years of my career into one book! Also, in February, I’ll have my first fragrance coming out. It’s unisex and it’ll be coming out with Adidas.
What is your WILD Wish?
To make Moschino the coolest brand ever.
All photos courtesy of Jeremy Scott/Rizzoli