Spotlight On: Jeremy Scott

Couch surfing in Paris to dressing the biggest names in Hollywood. Not a soap opera, but the wild world of Jeremy Scott.

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With a star-spangled contact book and world renowned fashion innovations, Jeremy Scott is one of the greatest designers of the 21st century. His love of the modern and the ambition in his own personal dress aesthetic propelled Scott into the sphere of models and catwalks soon after his graduation from New York’s Pratt Institute in 1996.

Growing up in Midwestern Kansas City, Missouri (USA), Scott always knew he had a fascination for clothing. “I was enthralled by it. That was where I wanted to be, in the pages of fashion magazines”, and that is exactly where he ended up. But it was not always easy for Scott, explaining that his time at Pratt was “a rigorous education in tailoring, drawing and patternmaking”. However, one can only think that this sort of training and curriculum has made Scott the tremendous artist he is today, employing his abstract and commercial loves to his designs. When explaining where his interests derived from, Scott informs us he “was always sketching outfits or rehabilitating thrift-store clothes”. This at least highlights where his crazy colour co-ordinations and era-affiliated inspirations for later collections have come from. Jean Paul Gautier, Theirry Mugler, and Franco Moschino were also great muses for him.

Moving from NYC, Scott made his dream relocation to the capital of fashion (and France), Paris. Graduation had set Scott up to find himself an internship in the city, but unfortunately, he spent many of his first weeks sleeping rough, finding himself caught up in Metro stations, or staying the night on the floor of strangers. One of these said unfamiliars, Jeremy claims, once asked him sarcastically, “if you’re so good, why not do it yourself?’, so he did, and the eponymous label of Jeremy Scott was born. Shortly after, Scott was lucky enough to bump into a public relations worker for Jean Paul Gautier. The PR had picked up on his individual style, as at the time Scott was rocking an asymmetric mohawk he’d styled himself. This fall-at-his-feet opportunity now granted Scott contact with all the right names he needed to progress.

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Image courtesy of f*ckingyoung.es

Scott’s irreverent, charismatic and garish style was now leading him to be a fashion favourite among the French. “I was expressing myself on my body every day, and I had a lot to say”, almost mimicking the rebellious and provocative designs common throughout his collections. Scott seems to mirror his own living experiences through the catwalk, demonstrating his absorption in style. From his club-kid-esque brashness to his ready-to-wear garms, Scott has managed to lead a career filled with collaboration with the highest names. Turning down the offers of Versace, Paco Rabanne and Chloé, Scott became the protégé of Karl Lagerfeld, building up a solid foundation while working together on photoshoots, whilst simultaneously working for Christian Louboutin.

As a result of such success, Scott was about to exhibit his own anti-fashion, self-titled label in 1997. Attending the catwalks of Bastille, Scott publicised a collection solely around car crashes. Models dressed in salvaged paper hospital gowns, skirts pleated with Perspex insets, walking barefoot with heels bandaged to their feet. Although perhaps impractical for everyday wear, Scott was clearly defining his place in the fashion world, stating his originality and energy for design and his revolutionary tactics to be ahead of the game.

By 2001, Scott now positioned himself back in the USA, taking his artistry to Los Angeles. Striding into the scene, the designer managed to assemble his own celebrity phonebook. Dressing the likes of Madonna, Kylie, Britney, Beyoncé, Gaga, Minaj, Rihanna, Miley Cyrus, Bjork, Kanye West, and Justin Bieber, it is safe to say the biggest names in showbiz aren’t afraid of the idiosyncratic style of Scott’s costumes. The media have even begun to sensationalise his famous cohort, calling them the ‘Jezza posse’. Such branding and high visibility of his work led him to further opportunities, re–designing the Moonman statuette in his role as Creative Director for the MTV Video Music Awards, as well as featuring in his own documentary, ‘Jeremy Scott: The People’s Designer’ (2015). The film makes use of cameo sketches, whereby his pop star friends make commentary to accumulate Scott’s identity as the wild and wacky persona he is. Common investor, and close companion Katy Perry, describes Scott as someone who ‘designs to please himself’. This perfectly describes the designer, exploring the playful and personal elements we adhere to in relation to his panache. “My independence and voice are important”, Scott says, “primarily I try to feel things. Emotions aren’t always rational; it’s not possible to put them into words.”

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Jeremy with h ‘posse’. Image courtesy of E! Online

The toil that Scott demands of himself, evident within all of his creative processes, provides confirmation of his obsession with fashion. His determination to reject over-analysis and draw out his visions emotively rather than logically saw Scott take the seat of Creative Director for the Italian House of Moschino in 2011. His alliance with the label now allows Scott’s designs to be shown across various stages in New York. “People don’t want quiet fashion from me. They want the whole nine yards”, which Scott certainly exposed in his Moschino Fall 2014 runway.

Junk food-themed attire became the focus of the collection, with Scott daringly experimenting with the loud tones of red, and infamous yellow arches of fast-food chain, McDonald’s. He made the audience wait an entire hour before the fast-fashion collection was debuted. However, his use of the McDonald’s branding broke out into controversy, asking whether Scott was in fact glamourizing the industry, and all the negative consequences it introduces. Workers complained of humiliation and exploitation, seeing Scott’s expensive apparel as contradictory to the reality of the costs the workers’ pay for their uniform, as well as the minimum wages they receive. Scott fed back that “McDonald’s is part of our everyday lives”, which spurred him on to found the designs. “I always pull from things that are significant to me” which I’m sure the majority of Western civilisation would agree with in terms of the popularisation of fast-food restaurants in today’s society. Despite the criticism, the collection did proceed to immediately sell out the day after exhibition.

Image courtesy of adifansnet via Flickr

Since dressing Miss Piggy, commercialising Moschino’s first male Barbie doll in advertisements, and fusing couture with street style in collaboration with Adidas, Scott has without a doubt sailed way beyond any personal expectations he may have once have had as a youngster flicking through the pages of magazines. Clashing retro with futuristic, outlandish designs have formed Scott’s image as freakish, sweet-natured, and witty. Clever incorporation of iconic pop-cultural figures have landed the artist rising sales, making clothes exclusively available to those of diverse taste. Organising outrageous clothing, accessories, and footwear, and utilising his unconventional themes and motifs in doing so, has provided Scott a namesake label with robust foundations. You know a Jeremy Scott when you see one, let’s just put it that way.