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As an intern wipes sweat off Scott’s forehead, he tells me how on a recent visit to Paris, friends kept telling him that they missed his energy in the city, that Paris needed him. He realized that he missed the city too and decided to take his show back where he started.
“France esteems fashion unlike any place ever,” he says. “It’s an art form there. Everyone, even taxi drivers, knows about it, talks about it, is aware of it. We can’t fathom it as Americans.”
Scott tells me how one time he was recognized by a driver picking him up at the Paris airport and he felt as if he were on another planet. “It’s kind of like Hollywood, how everyone seems to know the film industry. Well, in France, Hollywood is fashion and fashion designers are their stars.”
For the last five years, Scott has shown in New York and felt like a fish out of water. “There were a lot of young people who were excited about my clothes in New York,” he says. But he felt that he was graded differently from other designers. “Even if the same people are watching each show [in Paris and New York],” he continues, “it’s like they put on different glasses in New York. Maybe I’ve made this whole thing up, but to me, my designs feel out of context in New York.”
West Hollywood, 2007
Scott throws on a pair of dark sunglasses. He’s back from Paris, where he was received like a returning hero, and is dressed in one of his own sweaters, the one with a happy face bloodied by a bullet in its head on the front, and a pair of yellow-and-black pants with the dance-step print. As we walk out the door, he cloaks himself in a black, blanketlike shawl with eyes woven into the knit. We head to one of his favorite restaurants, one with lots of vegetarian options. The cute young waiter comments on his wrap, and Scott blushes, shrinking into himself, and mumbles something inaudible.
And as we look over the menu, he tells me how he is still a little put off by something that happened earlier in the day at a photo shoot. Scott had presented three models with outfits, but the mother of one of the models was on-site and made it clear that she didn’t want her child to wear anything suggestive. She especially didn’t like the dress that had boobs shaped like records. Scott, understanding that the girl, who had previously modeled his clothes for Vice magazine, was only 15, tried to come up with items that would please the mother. Meanwhile, he’d saved an issue of Vice with the model’s picture and presented it proudly to the girl and her mom.
“Here you are,” he said, pointing to the model’s image in a group picture. She was wearing an age-appropriate jumper with an alphabet-lettered design. But as Scott went to look for a more demure outfit, the mother flipped through the magazine and discovered a spread that featured Tom Ford buffing the ass of another man. She pulled her daughter from the shoot before Scott could even show them another outfit.
“I wasn’t asking the girl to wear anything revealing,” Scott says, sipping on his iced white monkey. “She probably has bikini shots in her book that show more skin than anything I was going to put her in. It makes me feel bad. Makes me feel dirty and creepy, like I’m a bad person.”
He tries instead to focus on Paris, where critics called his clothes “fresh, upbeat and positive.”
“Over a thousand people wanted to get into the show, and the place only held 600,” reports Mark Hunter, who found his own way to Paris so he could document Scott’s return. “It was a madhouse.”
Once the show started, Hunter says, “Even the photographers were applauding. I guess most shows are kind of bland and ordinary; this was something different.”
After the show, Hunter went backstage to see Scott. “He was back there, speaking fluent French. I didn’t even know he spoke French. People were coming out of the woodwork to sing his praises — big fashion people saying they were really happy to be there and how amazing the show was.”
It’s no wonder he’s now made up his mind to show only in Paris, where he feels he’s understood. Here, it’s just too hard to constantly explain himself.
“I’ve always felt I fit better in Paris,” Scott told Women’s Wear Daily after his show. “People get me there. It’s about fashion for fashion’s sake.” For more information and store locations, go to www.jeremyscott.com.
“Starring” A short film by Jeremy Scott – Part One Part Two