When the first look from Jeremy Scott’s autumn winter 2019 collection hit the runway tonight in New York City, its guise was not unexpected. A 90s grunge-prom, disco-punk runway of ra-ra skirts, mini-dresses and overcoats all splashed in salacious headlines. ‘New York Post’ mastheads were particularly prevalent, and since Scott had given the newspaper an exclusive preview and interview a couple of days ago, this was not unexpected either.
This is not to say the collection is markedly derivative. Newspaper-print print has long been of fascination for fashion designers. Its ability to quite literally make a statement dates back to the 30s when Elsa Schiaparelli screened press clippings relating to her own work onto what would become infamous yardage of the time. Then, of course, it was disgraced designer John Galliano who printed fictitious newspaper stories, some including his own face, onto a collection for Christian Dior in 2000 (one dress famously worn by Carrie Bradshaw in season three of Sex and the City). This collection deemed ‘Hobo Haute Couture’ was inspired by homeless people Galliano said he saw nightly in Paris. A range (and statement) that caused outrage and went on to be spoofed by film Zoolander in its nonsense collection ‘Derelicte’.
However, according to his tabloid muse of the moment, The New York Post says Scott’s headline-splashy-trashy new collection is actually inspired by his Polish artist friend Aleksandra Mir’s 2007 exhibition ‘Newsroom 1986-2000’. You can see the hand-drawn, typographical resemblance. And in addition to the white-on-black story-hooks printed on to every single item sent down the runway, Scott fastened the ensembles together with Cruella de Vil-esque two-toned wigs and oversized head-bows. A subtle symbol to the media as overlord perhaps? From a distance the whole range has a 101 Dalmatians familiarity, so perhaps the meaning is more about mass-sameness.
Once coined as the Andy Warhol of fashion, Scott almost single-handedly continues the appropriation of pop culture in fashion. Sometimes successfully, sometimes not and not without a share of plagiarist and insensitivity accusations. The designer, who also creative directs pop-tastic Italian fashion house Moschino, is nothing if not out-there. His spring summer collection last year was a cache of comic book buzz words while the season before let loose on a psychedelic, intergalactic, rave-vibe. So, in hindsight, today’s show was substantially darker and more controlled. There was little straying from the black and white (and read all over) look, bar a couple of ripped denim pieces. 90s Doc Martin-style boots made for a suitably expected footwear choice, while the menswear (which was included) focused on heavy puffer outerwear and solid (albeit scribbled upon), wearable black cargos.
And, of course, there are dystopian comments here. A thrashing of the era of conservative commercialism, from a man who earned his stripes during the devil-may-care, bourgeoisie-be-damned era of circa ’98. Could we call this look controlled anarchy? Perhaps. Explosive, salacious and provocative words garnishing garments frustrated by careful, clever construction (zipped motos, cinched bustiers, slick French berets, multi-layered tulle skirting). There is a feeling of uniformity against will here, an idea that we’re all existentially laboured by an endless, exhausting newsfeed.
Is Scott feeling a little caged in, these days? I’m sure we’ll “read all about it” soon.