Jeremy Scott, creative director of Moschino, designer of his own eponymous label, and fashion’s enfant terrible, talks to HOLLY O’NEILL about feminism, Dolly Parton and his newest creative venture.
"We cannot accept you because you lack originality, artistic ability and creativity.” That’s what FIT, New York’s prestigious Fashion Institute of Technology," said in a letter to a young Jeremy Scott (who grew up in the total dichotomy of the world he now inhabits, on a small farm in Missouri), after seeing his sketches. When his first collection for Moschino was released, fashion critics were not shy about sharing their thoughts on his exuberantly kitsch Spongebob Squarepants prints and McDonald’s riffs. “Jeremy Scott’s new Moschino collection has ruined fashion forever,” stated one headline. The New Yorker dubbed his collections “the spawn of Lewis Carroll and Kevin Federline."
In his documentary, Jeremy Scott: The People’s Designer (watch it on Netflix), in stark contrast to the sniffy critics are the musical and pop culture icons singing Scott’s praises. “Jeremy Scott changed my life,” proclaims an unblinking A$AP Rocky. The designer’s newest collaboration – a high-voltage limited edition MAC collection of eyeshadows, lipsticks and cheek tints – is all housed in boombox and mixtape packaging, and Scott says that when he designs, there’s always music involved. “I think about the Jeremy Scott girl as either going to a concert or on stage. I think about fans and the enthusiasm of girls going to a concert or people dancing to the music. Music is a constant in the thought of who the Jeremy Scott girl is – there’s always music wrapped around her.” Scott has a fanatical following of pop music icons, including Madonna, Rihanna and Miley Cyrus, who look to him as their costumier – he created Katy Perry’s look for her Super Bowl half-time performance and designed Britney’s iconic flight attendant uniform in the “Toxic” music video and the Minnie Mouse outfit in Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi”. So who has Scott not had the pleasure of dressing?
“I’ve been very spoiled, I have to say, so it's naughty of me to even be remiss about not dressing someone – but one of my favorites is Dolly Parton. I love her so much, and I've never had the chance to dress her. She asked me if I would be interested and I said, 'Of course, just name it! Anytime you want!’ So I’m bridging that gap soon, to hopefully be able to dress the last musician I’ve never dressed who I desire to. It’s all I think about!”
Humour is another constant wrapped around the Jeremy Scott girl, whether it’s a slogan tee (Scott’s own SS18 collection includes a T-shirt announcing “sex is cute”), a Warholian play on saturated tones, food packaging, brand perception and cultural obsessions (like the Moschino Budweiser ballgown – Google it) or extreme exaggeration. When Chloé, Loewe, Simone Rocha and Emilia Wickstead are sending ditzy, ethereal floral dresses down their SS18 runways, Scott has models dressed as lifesize bouquets of flowers.
So Scott’s collaboration with MAC is suitably Crayola coloured, including a Lo-Fi eyeshadow palette, with 29 shades ranging from warm brown to electric purple. “I tried to think about how different skin tones and personalities would react to different colours; some people would like a bold colour, or someone might want something a little more subtle. I was really trying to capture as many people as possible that are in my world and hopefully nudge and inspire them to try a colour they hadn’t. With this palette, you really have room to play with something you hadn’t yet tried and at the same time have your wheel of colours you love already, but in beautiful new shades.” He laughs that he has worn his share of make-up in the day. “There was definitely a time when there was a lot of eyeshadow on my face, going from the inner eye socket way past into my hairline. Young Jeremy Scott would have been thrilled about having this many colours in one palette.”
While fashion houses throw money at figuring out the Gucci effect and reaching the social media generation, Moschino’s made-for-Instagram collections and accessories are universally recognisable. Even if you weren’t familiar with the name Jeremy Scott, you’d know the iPhone cases – the Barbie mirror, the McDonald’s french fries, the cleaning spray, and the cigarette packet emblazoned with “fashion kills”
"When your clothes can make someone’s spirits soar, or make someone feel confident or like themselves, that’s such a great gift."
He’s also responsible for bringing the Hadid sisters to the masses, and they’re some of the models most significant for him to work with. “I love finally being able to work with my little baby, Kaia Gerber, who I've been watching grow up and getting to know over the last several years as she's blossoming into womanhood. Obviously, launching Gigi and starting her career – I was the first designer to put her in a show and have her open and close that first show, and I’ve watched her skyrocket and become a modern-day supermodel, as I did with Bella, who I also launched. There are so many different beauties and models that have inspired me, especially when they’re so indicative of a different mood or moment. Having that ability, like Slick Woods who, when I had her in my campaign last year, I thought about what an interesting new beauty she is and how, for the fashion world, she can represent more people.”
When I ask if he’s a feminist, he says he’s never really thought about it. “I’ve had people put that label on me. I think that what is exciting is when people tell me my clothes make them feel empowered and feel themselves – that part really does make me feel like there’s something I’ve achieved beyond just making a pretty dress – when your clothes can make someone’s spirits soar, or make someone feel confident or like themselves, that’s such a great gift, and I feel very, very fortunate to be able to give that gift by sharing the gift that I feel like I was given, of design.” And what does it matter about the cynics when the Queen Bee has your back? In a fashion-world-shattering moment that made headlines, Karl Lagerfeld told French newspaper Le Monde that Jeremy Scott was the only designer who could replace him at Chanel. Kudos.
This article was originally published in the March 2018 issue of IMAGE. For more beauty features, check out the April issue of IMAGE, on shelves now.