It comes all at once as surprise, comfort and delight that among the first words out of Jeremy Scott’s mouth is “sorry.” Apologizing for a minor rescheduling of our phone interview, he is blunt—“Shit happens, I guess”—but also polite and modest, almost bashful. In the course of the conversation, he is never boastful, though, since beingnamed creative director at Moschino in 2013, he has become a pop sensation. Nor is he bitter, though there were times when his work was dismissed as outlandish and he was perceived as a scrawny misfit.
Scott is still an eccentric outlaw on the lam from the conventions of good taste, but he has developed executive muscle, too. From his base in Los Angeles, he presides over an ever-expanding range of enterprises. And make no mistake, for all his street-wise sass—the phone case shaped like a takeout of fries with golden arches; the Looney Tunes handbag depicting a subversive image of a blinged-out Bugs Bunny brandishing a carat-studded carrot—Scott does preside. “I’m fully aware, fully on and fully kind of designing everything that goes on with me. Anything that’s happening is definitely on my table.”
Besides projects that he can’t talk about, the world of Jeremy Scott includes: his signature Jeremy Scott line; collaborations with Adidas, which include a fragrance launched earlier this year in a bottle shaped like a sneaker; and his collections at Moschino, which have generated the kind of buzz that the Italian house has not enjoyed since the death in 1994 of Franco Moschino, another designer who enjoyed making a mockery of taste.
A joker, Scott also works hard. This past February, outfitting Katy Perry in Moschino for her performance at the Super Bowl, he kept tabs on every detail, including tracking numbers for packages. “I didn’t want to leave anything to chance for her, especially her, being one of my closest friends and loves of my life.” Scott and Perry, who is the face of the Moschino fall campaign, met years ago.
“It was here in LA, before ‘I Kissed a Girl’ , and all that,” he says. “She stopped me and told me she was a huge fan, and that she was a singer, and that one day she hoped that I would dress her. I ended up dressing her for her record release.”
Perry is one of the celebrities in Jeremy Scott: The People’s Designer, a documentary film (due to hit theatres Sept. 18) that also features appearances by admirers such as Miley Cyrus, Rihanna, A$AP Rocky and Rita Ora. Indeed, there is around Scott the glow of his own pop stardom, supported by a fan base that he values above gold. “Having that,” he declares, “is what gets me really excited and motivates me.”
In the late ’90s, proving himself in Paris, Scott was still being approached cautiously by critics such as Cathy Horyn, who, in The New York Times, wondered, “What if this funny-looking youngster from Missouri is talented after all?” But, Scott had learned perseverance in rural Missouri, where he was often bullied. “I think it was a nice place to grow up, but I’m glad I don’t live there anymore.”
These days, Scott, who remembers early collections as being “post-apocalyptic,” does not like to dwell on melancholy matters. “I softened in my old age,” he says. “I honestly think there are so many dark things. I don’t want to be another one.”
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