High fashion is, I’ll argue, one of the more ridiculous subjects that many people take very, very seriously. Fashion shows tend to be parades of costumes, not outfits, yet everyone swoons and double-air-kisses the designer afterward.
And so it went in early 2014, when U.S. designer Jeremy Scott debuted his first collection—AW2014, or autumn-winter, for the uninitiated—as creative director of the Italian line Moschino. In Vlad Yudin’s Jeremy Scott: The People’s Designer, we get to see what sets off wild applause and nauseatingly insincere-seeming smooching: a wardrobe inspired by… McDonald’s. Soda cups as purses, visors emblazoned with a modified “M,” ketchup-red and mustard-yellow skirt suits, a ball gown in white fabric printed with nutritional info.
Afterward, the likes of Katy Perry and Kanye practically worshipped at Scott’s feet. But not everyone was so kind: Among critics’ comments about the show were “Tacky for the sake of being tacky,” and “Jeremy Scott’s new Moschino collection has ruined fashion forever.”
In a bizarre, green-screen interview that occasionally interrupts the film, Scott—who appears to be on a stage with stacks of TVs playing random images behind him, because why not?—responds to those burns with, “My clothes aren’t for critics. My clothes are for people.”
Do they walk around asking, “Can I take your order?”
OK, OK—Scott also has a contract with Adidas, and even though some of his shoes have teddy bears on them, everyone knows that certain-branded sneakers are going to be prized no matter what they look like. Scott’s shoe designs are for the (either wealthy or budget-busting) people. The rest are, well, tacky for the sake of being tacky. (His fans, notably he and Perry, call what his clothes have “humor,” and his detractors “don’t get it.”)
Yudin (Generation Iron) addresses Scott’s rise to fame, and it’s a story that many creative types share: an unaccepted and misunderstood youth (he grew up in rural Missouri). But then once unshackled from high school, Scott rose to his calling through sheer tenacity and grit. He moved to Paris, much to the shock of his family, and when he couldn’t get an internship with a famous designer, he just put on his own fashion show.
Scott’s path is inspiring, and he seems like an easygoing, personable guy. (Much more so than his collaborator, Carlyne Cerf de Dudzeele, whose thickly French-accented voice is as abrasive as her demeanor. She at one point calls a group of gorgeous runway models she and Scott have just auditioned “shit.”)
Can a man who, when asked “Who is Jeremy Scott?” calls himself an “icon” and says “I am pop culture” be anything but a deep-down dick, however? How about his status as a friend of Miley, who seems to drag out her tongue for every photo with Scott?
It’s difficult not to judge the man more than the film. But this ultimate hagiography throws Scott out there to be analyzed by a circle of professionals for whom, by his own admission, he doesn’t make clothes. After the Moschino show, Scott says that he’s seen statues for war heroes and artists, but “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a statue for a critic.” Well, buddy, the same goes for fashion designers.
Jeremy Scott: The People’s Designer opens Friday at the Angelika Pop-Up.