This season, fashion shows are being constantly perceived and interpreted though the window of our pandemic era – in a kind of exhausting context ad nauseam. But what if…a show could exist in spite of it? A collection with such theatrical luminosity that one could forget the atmosphere and instead, simply, be transported to a glorified yesteryear. Enter Moschino, stage left.
Jeremy Scott doesn’t play by the rules. And he doesn’t pander to trends or zeitgeist or political environs. He runs the show. A show as far and fabulous as his imagination can take him. “Nobody tells me nothing. I’ve heard stories of designers at other major houses who have to present their work to the owner to get approval of a theme and then get denied that theme. It shocks me. In that way I am very old-school: I am the designer, I have a vision, and we follow my vision to the nth degree. And that’s the law.” he said in a video call.
This Moschino law, the one Scott inherited from master of mockery Franco Moschino in 2013, poses a compelling case for sartorial satire every single season. And, for Fall 2021, his dreamscape is Jungle Red, a stylised salon show that both honours and jibes at 1950s Hollywood.
The name comes courtesy of the infamous nail varnish colour featured in the 1939 film The Women. Films of this era are iconically decadent. A protagonist dressed in a velvet gown leaning dramatically against a marble staircase before circulating a highfaluting soiree was practically imperative to every script.
Scott’s reenactment is perfectly pretentious, and one almost upstaged by the – count them – 36 sensational model names that are revealed as the film plays out. Supers like Karen Nelson, Shalom Harlow, Amber Valetta, Carolyn Murphy and Liberty Ross causing oohs and ahhs (from this writer, at least) as their faces appear from behind oversized hats and stage props. Then, there’s Joan Smalls, Lily Aldridge, Taylor Hill, Stella Maxwell, the list goes on. Maître d’ (actor and model) Maye Musk introduces each fashion setting – the work day, the countryside, the museum, the “shopping” safari – in flowery detail as the film’s riotously glamorous discourse evolves.
But we digress. This is a fashion show, after all, not a film. Though you could be forgiven for thinking otherwise. Scott intersects his crafty costumery so sympathetically into his narrative that it’s difficult to tell which came first – the look or the concept.
There’s Hailey Bieber in a Sinatra pinstripe shorts suit and platform Astaire brogues. There’s Winnie Harlow in a pearl-draped, black fish-tail gown slung with a pink Chantilly caplet. There’s Miranda Kerr in a farmyard trompe l’oeil Oklahoma! dress (replete with a very covetable barnyard bag). There’s Precious Lee in a va va boom Charleston number flanked by a giant glove-shaped pashmina. There’s Amber Valetta as a gilt gold crocodile pencil skirt with a (genius) spiked tail. There’s Shalom Harlow as a sequinned cheetah in matching thigh high boots. And then there’s the cinched peplum two-pieces crafted from ye olde hessian potato bag prints. A gloriously facetious, and typically Moschino, take on “she’d look good in a potato sack”.
The looks are resplendent and plentiful, making just one watch of the film not enough.
It’s quirky and captivating. Surreal in a most literal sense (paintings revealing to be real life, models dressed as giraffes and hats as windmills) – exactly how Scott would have intended.
In 1951 Gene Kelly directed a dream ballet into his Academy Award winning film An American In Paris. A 17-minute interpretative indulgence that swerved choreography into French impressionism and served as a symbol of romance. Its ilk is all but extinct in today’s appetite for fast-paced cinematic realism, so Scott’s nostalgic homage (particularly when a spectacular painting comes to life) is champagne for the soul. Glamour for glamour’s sake. No street style, no couch couture, no reality.
“Comfort schmomfort! What we need now more than ever is fantasy and glamour and things that make you feel wonderful, and I don’t think sweatpants do that.” said Scott.
On the runway, prior COVID, Moschino shows were always a seasonal highlight – Scott’s ability to constantly spear such notable talent is proof – however, in this parrallel universe, it’s possible he’s managed to make them even more exciting. This new expectation placed upon designers to produce not only a collection that is sellable and strategic but also a cinematic experience is weighting. How can they possibly create such gargantuan productions several times a year?
Fortunately, it also means a new frontier for fashion shows. In a calendar that was grappling with adjectives like passé and redundant before the pandemic, this forcible shift into a genre of entertainment is offering a surprising rebirth, and a whole new public online audience.
The film ends with Dita Von Teese in a floor length satin Queen of Hearts gown. She offers a sashay-and-a-wink before turning to reveal a little bare-bottom surprise. Cheeky, in every sense.