Moschino’s sales figures have increased ten fold – since the appointment of Jeremy Scott – and their social media footprint must have gone from sparrow to Big Foot. What I’d really like to think about Jeremy Scott is that he is hand in glove with what Franco Moschino was doing at the house, 25 years ago. What I’d like to think is that they have a shared love for the postmodern picking away at the speed of the fashion system – and materialism itself. I’d like to think that these pair have existed within the system to poke fun at it – to destroy it from an anarchic position, an all-knowing non position – not without its hypocrisy.
The problem with Scott’s irony is that it has become so popularized that it has started to feel canned. Click bait glitter. When the love for all things nostalgic-naff tips into mass culture, the sentiment can become so lost that it feels like irony has mutated. Irony has become an aesthetic rather than a philosophy, an aesthetic without agenda.
Apathetic to what Jeremy Scott might be trying to say, about iconography within pop culture, we get caught up in talking about McDonalds and Barbie – and whether it would look good on us. We don’t often discuss these things when we look at other surrealist / postmodern designers, such as Comme des Garcons or Elsa Schiaparelli. Schiaparelli has given us a lobster and Rei Kawakubo lovehearts, polka dots and crayon coloured shoes – and everyone respects their intellectual position. The wearability of their pieces is not the discussion. The problem with Scott is that he is openly trying to ditch meaning – all in the name of fun. It is possible to appeal to the critics and the masses – so it’s sad he’s not openly trying. One postmodern designer who has had both best selling perfumes and l’enfant terrible street cred is Jean Paul Gaultier. Scott should take note.
Franco Moschino was undoubtedly the real deal, and Jeremy Scott would not be the designer he is today without him – he must feel right at home. I hope that his ironic storytelling is genuine, and that one is right to think “Let them eat cake” the next time one meets a bedazzled Moschino fan girl.
Is Jeremy really operating at two tiers, or am I just being a hopeless romantic? Li Edelkort has already announced that fashion is dead. I’m just about clinging on. Maybe we’ll look back on this era as the time where nothing meant anything. It would be cool to think that we are living in a Dadaist vacuum, but with all this apathy – and the control systems of peer to peer comparison culture numbing our brains – something tells me this isn’t a creative movement. It’s an epidemic.
Scott keeps saying he just wants to have fun. However, when you’ve been showing alongside Jean Charles Castlebajac for the last 20 years and you are a disciple of Moschino, Sprouse and Gaultier, you are in danger of dumbing down what they stood for too. It pollutes the system. It doesn’t seem the done thing to speak about the message behind your designs nowadays – but here’s to hoping that fun means fun on one level, but an all knowing-ness on another. Maybe they think intelligence will scare the masses. This is where fashion gets itself into a sticky situation. The art world makes such an effort to bring meaning to everything,whilst fashion likes to reject meaning, in fear of alienating a more mass audience. Hence, art thinks it says more about the world than fashion. Trust me, there is a lot of art that isn’t saying anything – and that isn’t aesthetically virtuous either. Scott said recently: “You don’t need to know the exact thing that I was thinking, but you get the gist. I feel that makes something playful but also powerful.” Agreed, it is powerful – if there is indeed some thinking.
If Jeremy Scott is running with the fox, and hunting with the hounds, let’s call intelligent fashion the fox, and the pack of the hounds the sell out mass-naff. The following section of this piece will be written in the context of Jeremy Scott running with the fox. I don’t really have anything to say about the hounds.
At Moschino, Jeremy Scott is using metaphors around speed to parody the speed with which we are moving within the fashion industry – whether it be sales racks, the racing track or fast food. By the speed of the industry, I mean the increased frequency of the seasons, what with pre collections and next to non-existent downtime. The speed with which the internet is not only consuming new ideas, it is now dictating the pace with which we want them created. This has triggered what I call Seasonal Confusion disorder, where we are expecting customers to become re-engaged in a collection – via the medium of cold hard cash – when they already devoured it on Instagram six months previous. It’s a tall order. Gen Y has the shortest attention span of any generation, thanks to the way that tech is rewiring the brain. Six months is an aeon in the digital realm. We live in the age of the instant opinion – and Miuccia Prada is one such designer who has slammed knee jerk tweets, which critique collections that have taken her months to design. The genuinely new will always look odd, and I for one, am in full support of us sitting on our hands for a moment.
One positive that comes out of this is that it extends the validity for fashion magazines, beyond the nostalgia for reading some pieces of printed paper. Magazines are essential platforms, which reignite interest in collections via the storytelling of stylists, models and photographers. Items within collections can be entirely re-contextualized, or the story of the runway extended and deepened. The challenge is none the less great, and designers such as Diane Von Furstenberg have spoken in the past about the economic heartbreak of seeing your clothes go into sale, once they have finally been produced. She used the smart analogy of the cinema trailer: there’s a reason why film studios give you a 30 second clip rather than the entire movie; you’d never return to see it again. One solution is to bring the point of sale forward, but only huge corporations such as Burberry can really take the risk of offering shop the runway options. However, all this serves to deepen the divide between creativity and plausibility, as smaller fashion designers find producing in time for runways an impossible task. Who said there was such a thing as fashion democracy? We live in the most capitalist of times.
The SALE dresses within Scott’s Resort 2016 collection for Moschino attack not only the failing elements of the current retail system but also comment upon how we are selling ourselves into the system. We are owned.
Disarming the world with humour, as a way to talk about the darker side of materialism, was not just a device used by Franco Moschino himself but also the great surrealist fashion designer, Elsa Schiaparelli – and many others including Meadham Kirchhoff, Marc Jacobs and Viktor & Rolf.. You have Franco Moschino’s disdain for high fashion – and namely Chanel – and you not only have Franco Moschino’s ‘90’s faux Chanel suit with “Old clothes make good soup” written across the back, but you see Scott’s love for pastich-ing Chanel quilting and the irreverent nod of spelling Paris back to front, way back in Fall 2000.
Franco Moschino described fashion as a vampire, thinking it could not only creatively suck you dry, as a designer – but put all who crossed its path at the mercy of relevance. With the window of the now ever decreasing, the opportunity to just enjoy being current has become tortuously short -and we are drained. Franco Moschino not only launched an ad campaign that protested against the vampire via a shadowy picture of the devourer and the lipstick scrawl “say no to fashion”, he used food as a signifier for consumption within his designs also. Whether it be spoons and forkes as epaulettes and fastenings, or fried eggs on Chanel-esque suits, this postmodern legacy has been re-served by Jeremy Scott many a time – such as in that fantastic A/W 2013 “Enjoy God” collection, where the worship of brands such as Coca-Cola were held up as bankrupt spirituality.
At the turn of the last century, critics were questioning whether Jeremy Scott could turn out commercially viable clothes. Although I was pleased to see his Barbie of the early noughties was back – I felt the 2014 version was a collection that felt all hype and no bite. (The hounds are coming). His comments discounting Barbie as any kind of role model, when it comes to body image, was disconcerting. Lumps and bumps (Comme des Garcons 1997), this was not. His Resort 2016 collection however had much more weight to it – and felt more grounded in luxury. Yes, it’s Resort so it will have a commercial focus but one tires of watching how the traditional seasons (S/S & A/W) have to look low quality and gimmicky, in comparison to the pre-collections. For Resort he gave us the editorial bells and whistles up front, and offered us a balanced connection to both the integrity of Moschino as a luxury brand and as a brand that knows its signatures. He played with the candy coloured Chanel tweed, the credit card, the shopping bag, a No 5 take on a Moschino perfume bottle – and the cutest go-to black dress, with pink bows. (The ability to create classicism within a cartoonish vortex is impressive.)
Look 37, the lacy black dress to undress, provided a narrative link to Scott’s offering for Moschino’s S/S ’16 Menswear collection – pulling us into an unknowing embrace with Cassanova, who ended up turning up as his central character at the show in Pitti.
Cassanova, playboy of the baroque era, sees Jeremy Scott present us with another signifier for speed, consumption and mindless collecting. The tee, which read “more scores than Cassanova” said it all. Cassanova may have been collecting lovers but it holds a parallel with the braggish world we love in. We are living in a score driven society: more likes, more retweets, more followers, more friends (I use this in the loosest sense of the word), more comments, more tags, more check ins. The looks that followed were racey and transparent and gave the collection a definite extremity of pleasure. The veracious colour palette of oranges and mauves, the reoccurring Formula 1 print – and even the McDonalds’s colour palette for look 33 – all metaphorically meant the toxicity of speed and instant pleasure whizzed by our eyes.
How we collect and consume was also celebrated in the form of spontaneity via graffiti and Memphis colour blocking. Attempting to put that 80’s postmodern collage aesthetic bang into the middle of 2015 can sometimes feel too literal, too costumey. It needs to be grounded in the now, rather than the museum. Raf Simons does this well. With Scott it can sometimes feel less developed, less sensitively done. But hey, Raf is Raf and Jeremy is Jeremy. Both designers are caught up in a postmodern appraisal of their adolescence. The innocence with Raf may feel at times melancholic, whereas Jeremy’s always feels joyful – whatever comes his way. Take the pulling off the shelves of the Adidas “My little Monster” sneakers. Scott was adamant that when people saw shackles, it didn’t mean slavery – but this time the darkness was too much, and the apparent gaiety of a children’s cartoon wasn’t bright enough to hide the shadows of his creative underbelly.
Take the “This is not a toy teddy bear” t-shirt print. Unless we are entering the world of the metaphysical, it clearly is a teddy bear– and that is the point. If someone tells us a teddy bear is not a teddy bear, then it is “them” who is toying with us. Scott tells us we are the toys – the playthings of brands.
Here’s hoping, the fox lives for another day.
Cover image: Moschino Menswear S/S ’16, Resort 2016 & Franco Moschino poster / advertisement 1990.
Words: Lucy Norris