By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Though Scott didn’t live through the decade, he feels that the ’50s as a cultural touchstone represent a simpler time in life, when everything seemed possible — the time of tomorrow, filled with cars of the future, a new form of music and rocket trips to space. And the teenybopper feel of ’50s poodle skirts and saddle shoes fits right in with the designer’s obsession with youth culture, no matter the decade. Over the course of his 10-year career, he’s easily made the transition from late MTV-generation designer, dressing Madonna, Björk and Britney Spears, to MySpace-age guru. Paris, 1995–2002
Three months after he graduated from Pratt, Scott was on a plane headed for Paris, the place he always felt he should be.
“I just wanted to pick up pins and needles off the floor of a studio of a designer I liked. Just to be around experimental fashion.”
There were only two problems: He had no internship, and he had no place to live. But he did have his own look, and Paris took notice. During his first week in the city, Gaultier’s PR rep came up to him and admired his hair (at the time, a Mohawk-mullet hybrid), he had a camera crew follow Scott around the Bastille, and a photographer spontaneously asked if he could take his portrait. Numerous party invitations also came his way as he wandered through the city. Crashing here and there over the first few months, he was, as he says, a “hodgepodge tumbling into the next set of circumstances.”
Even with his growing circle of connections, however, life in Paris was fragile. He decided that if he still had no place to live by Christmas, when he was set to head home to visit his family in Missouri, he would not go back to France.
“Life was hanging by a thread, and it all changed ’cause I met one guy and he became my boyfriend and helped me get the apartment,” Scott says. He got his place a few days before his homeward flight. When he returned to Paris, he was determined to put on a show, and he did.
“It just snowballed from there,” says Scott. “I didn’t expect to go to France and start my own company.”
He also didn’t expect to win two of France’s Venus de la Mode Awards for future top designer in 1997 or to be nominated for Best Young Designer by the Council of Fashion Designers of America in 1999. At that point, he had acquired a reputation as a “bad boy” designer. “The fashion world is knee-deep in debate,” wrote the London Evening Standard in 1999. “Is Jeremy Scott an enfant terrible, set to shake up the way we dress, or is he just plain terrible? His loudmouth pronouncements include calling John Galliano ‘stagnant and over,’ branding Ann Demeulemeester ‘just another Donna Karan ... completely boring’ ... and accusing Olivier Theyskens of being ‘too much up Alexander McQueen’s ass.’ Ouch.” But Scott had one important pillar of the fashion establishment in his corner: Karl Lagerfeld. Scott spent much of his time in Paris hanging around and sometimes art-directing shoots for the incredible shrinking designer. Back in his Hollywood Hills dining room, there is a large framed portrait of Scott, thin as a rail, his body greased up, wearing some sort of loincloth. His arms are raised above his head, and a bike, chained to a tree, lies at his feet. He looks vaguely Christ-like, and the bike resembles a kneeling, grieving Madonna.
“Oh that,” Scott says dismissively, his voice tinged with a Kansas City drawl, when I take notice of the picture. “Karl took that. I walked my bike into his studio, the tree was there, and I was like, ‘Karl, what’s that?’ He said sternly, ‘It’s for your photograph. Go!’ ”
Lagerfeld pointed to the tree, and someone did his hair and makeup while Scott fashioned his Madonna Like a Virgin T-shirt into a loincloth. It had been a long road to that Paris studio, but he made it. “But they still wanted my name,” he goes on. “They wanted me to stamp and validate them, but were trying so hard to be legitimate they didn’t want to include my designs. I know I’m an artist. At this point in my life, I know it, I don’t need them to tell me that. I’m collected by the Louvre, and MOCA won’t accept me?”
Jeremy Scott's Fall/Winter 2006 collection Culver City, 2006
Scott fiddles nervously with the suspenders hanging down around his waist, looking at images being uploaded onto a laptop in the corner of a Smashbox photo studio. Devon Aoki is getting her hair and makeup done for the next shot. Lipstick made of candy sprinkles is applied, and she wears an ice-cream-cone corset.
“Is that weird?” he says, pointing to a shot of him and Aoki dressed in some kind of animal costume. “Am I winking the right eye? Should I wink the other eye?”
ID magazine is planning a 10-year retrospective of his work, and the pictures may go on the cover if they turn out well. Scott’s worked with ID before. He grew up reading it, and has a friendship with the magazine’s editor, but the cover isn’t guaranteed.