Moschino creative director Jeremy Scott was profiled in this week’s issue of the New Yorker. Incredibly, the profile makes no mention of the multiple allegations of copyright infringement against Scott, including an ongoing lawsuit filed by graffiti artist Rime.
The profile takes a look at Scott’s childhood and the early days of his fashion career, framing Scott as a kind of anti-establishment designer for the masses, which seems to be exactly how the designer likes to market himself; the designer was served with Rime’s copyright lawsuit at the premiere for The People’s Designer, a documentary about his life. “Jeremy’s not a normal fashion person. He’s a culture person,” Kim Hastreiter, the editor of Paper, tells writer Lizzie Widdicombe.
The New Yorker emphasizes Scott’s subversion of dominant cultural symbols, citing a faux Chanel jacket given a McDonalds-ified makeover at Scott’s debut show for Moschino in 2014; Scott is also compared to Bernie Sanders in his lucrative ability to appeal to millennials. Unlike Bernie Sanders, however, entwined with Jeremy Scott’s rise is an insistent disregard for lesser-known artists and marginalized communities: In 2013, Scott settled a copyright suit filed by skateboard artist Jimbo Phillips, saying in a statement “I now recognize my mistake”; Scott has also (briefly) sold sneakers outfitted with orange shackles that the Rev. Jesse Jackson referred to as “slave shoes,” and tracksuits featuring a totem pole design that infuriated the Native American community.
In a lawsuit filed in August 2015, Rime, a Brooklyn graffiti artist, claimed that Moschino and Scott ripped off one of his graffiti murals, titled “Vandal Eyes.” According to Rime, the allegedly stolen artwork appeared on Katy Perry’s Met Gala gown. Scott’s declaration to strike the complaint, WWD pointed out, was quite odd:
In what appears to be an exercise of self-expression and self-promotion, Scott used his filing to detail his design ethos and fend off critics who have dismissed his work as too mass. In fact, his explanation focuses almost entirely on his approach to work, as opposed to the actual legal dispute.
That none of this was mentioned in the profile is bizarre, although the piece can’t be described as entirely flattering—Widdicombe makes several references to the designer’s slightly off-putting mannerisms (“Rocking back and forth on his feet, like a seven-year-old at his birthday party, he introduced me to some executives from Mattel, saying, ‘Did you meet my Barbie friends?’”), mentions Scott’s terrible reviews from critics at the New York Times and WWD, and features a particularly brutal critique from British critic Alexander Fury:
The British fashion critic Alexander Fury, who loved Scott’s early work, has turned against him in his current incarnation, at Moschino. “These clothes aren’t going to excite me. They’re clothes for Katy Perry to wear,” he told me. He went on, talking about Scott’s fan base, “I guess it’s about dumbness being aspirational. That’s a big problem! It’s like people aspiring to be reality-TV stars!
But throwing in references to the designer’s critical reception without any mention of the more controversial aspects of his career allow Jeremy Scott to emerge from this profile as a kind of blinged-out, unflappable Robin Hood of the fashion industry, a vision that’s likely more flattering than accurate.
There’s a complex ongoing conversation in the fashion and retail worlds about intellectual property and copyright laws, and a profile on Jeremy Scott—whose body of work is an extended play on repurposed trends and iconography—would seem to demand at least some exploration into our contemporary understanding of ownership, and maybe less into the designer’s Mongolian lamb beanbag chairs.
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