Designer happy to stay a fashion outsider

Moschino creative director Jeremy Scott fills his office with assorted items that reflect his personality in Milan.
Moschino creative director Jeremy Scott fills his office with assorted items that reflect his personality in Milan.PHOTO: NYTIMES

MILAN • As the curtain goes up on Milan's fashion week, Jeremy Scott, creative director of Moschino and the founder of an eponymous line, discusses his life in Milan and Los Angeles, his love of stuff and why he is happy to stay a fashion outsider.

When did you become a two- brand designer? I started at Moschino on Oct 31 or Nov 1, 2013, and now I go back and forth between Milan and Los Angeles, where I live. Fundamentally, I think of myself as a subway station and I feel like either the Moschino collection or the Jeremy Scott collection goes on these tracks. Maybe they both stop in the station, but they end up in different destinations.

Didn't you start your brand in Paris? I moved to Paris around 1995 or 1996; my first collection on the runway was in 1997. This September will be my 20th anniversary. I went to Paris to learn and absorb some of the amazing ambience I was enamoured with growing up in Kansas City. I didn't go there to start my own collection. But I never could get an internship, so finally, I was left with just doing my own show.

I've always felt like an outsider and I'll probably continue to always feel like an outsider. Hopefully, that's a good thing. I feel like I approach things differently than other designers. Did joining Moschino change that? Having a house like Moschino, with advertisement campaigns and all these other elements, gives me maybe more legitimacy for a lot of people. But I'm the same. Except that now, I have a different megaphone to the world.

What's your schedule like in Milan? My schedule in Milan is based on fittings and shows. There are times I might be here for a couple of weeks, then I might not be here for another month. I'm always here for a concentrated amount of time and I go into this bubble and work sometimes till four in the morning. They have a restaurant here at the office and create special vegetarian meals for me. I walk to and from the office and the hotel, so I'm basically in this little Moschino world.

Is it different when you are home in Los Angeles? In Los Angeles, I probably go to the movies or to a restaurant more than I would here in Milan, but I don't go out to clubs and bars and places. I have a hermetic life. I'm pretty much at the studio, home or at (fitness studio) SoulCycle. Your office in Milan is pretty full of stuff. I love having things around that reflect my personality. I feel like you always create best when you're in a happy mood. I love stuff. I would say it's junk, but it's treasure to me. It started as, "Oh well, I'll put this backpack on the shelf." And then I was like, "Oh well, put the new backpack on." And then I ended up having a bit of a history of my collections. There are little tchotchkes, vintage cups, the Looney Tunes characters wearing Moschino jewellery, the hard-hat invitation that had been for my construction collection and the first Barbie from the Barbie collection. That was made as a gift for the front row, so she's exclusive. I think there were only 300 made.

Where did the desk come from? This desk is actually one that Franco (Moschino, the founder of the company) designed and I had recreated for my office. It's a vintage table that's been sliced in half, glass added, and then half of it has been gold-leafed. The most sentimental piece I have may be the teddy bear chair. Franco created one and I've created a new one. So I have an original and then I have the one that I made. I cherish that chair.

Do you have a lot of Franco's work around? When I first came to Moschino, I definitely wanted to see Franco's sketches and elements of his actual hand here. It was quite magical for me to be able to thumb through pieces of paper that he drew on and see some of the things I thought were so iconic. There's a table in the other room that he had in one of the first offices and it kept moving with him. It's a table where we still sit and work together. I feel like it makes him present for me in that way. How do you start a collection? There's not one formula to a collection, but often there is an idea or a mood. Sometimes it's coupled with a fabric or an image. For instance, with the current collection.

I had thought: What if you had to build your wardrobe out of cardboard boxes? Then it evolved into: What if you then took these glossy magazines, these fashion editorials and ripped them out? So you've taken the bra top that you love and you've taped it together with some glamorous, bold Moschino belt and taped that together with some chic froufrou skirt or sequinned gown, and you've Scotch-taped yourself an evening dress or something. Then it evolved to going to some fancy event and trying to create from this refuse, like a fancy Persian rug that's been tossed aside and now become an elegant evening gown.

What appealed to you about that? When you can recontextualise something, that's what is exciting. For instance, Barbie, who is basically part of everyone's popular culture. Whether you played with her or not, we've all grown up with her. She's the perfect muse for a fashion designer.

I'd love for the people who are watching my show, in Paris or Milan, New York or any other fashion capital, to be able to understand it just as well as someone in Mumbai or Timbuktu.

I love people to have my clothes. That's why I designed a baby stroller. To think that someone's baby is in that stroller and then one day, they're showing those baby pictures to a future spouse and they say, "Wow, that's an amazing stroller," and the first person says, "Well, that was a Jeremy Scott stroller." That's one of the ultimate compliments for a designer.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 24, 2017, with the headline 'Designer happy to stay a fashion outsider'. Print Edition | Subscribe