You can intern at a company and end up its creative director. You can grow up on a farm and dress the world’s biggest pop stars. Jeremy Scott is fashion's rebel in a world of corporate, safe, boring clothes.
"Miley has a pig that started as a baby pig and is now a big fat pig," says Jeremy Scott. "She paints its nails and I brush its hair. You have to keep potato chips or some carbs around, for her to stay as you brush." This story sums up the designer's world in a nutshell: a world of pop superstars, good animals gone bad and extreme Beverly Hills glamour.
I visit the designer in his hidden studio somewhere close to Hollywood, a surprisingly drab building, its grey outsides giving away nothing about the brightly sparkling collections just the other side of the wall. Jeremy and I sit facing one another on a gilded rococo sofa, and his right hand man, Pablo, brings me water in a Daffy Duck glass. Jeremy is surprisingly chirpy, glowing even, given that he's only just returned from a lost weekend at Coachella. As is tradition, he threw his own after-party out there for the eighth year running, and also styled Madonna for her surprise appearance onstage with Drake and their now notorious snog.
Jeremy is not only the creative director of Moschino and his own cult brand, but also a master of pop spectacle, a showman on the neon stage. Already this year he has worked with his best mate Katy Perry on a phantasmagorical marvel, the most watched Super Bowl halftime show ever, in which she pirouetted around a hapless left shark in his cheerleader costume, and rode around on a mirrored sphinx in his flaming disco dress. Everything that Jeremy does is larger than life. With the worlds of fashion and celebrity more entwined than ever - with popstars performing on the catwalk, or sitting front row, or walking in the show, or even opening their own fashion houses - he has become the ultimate pop culture designer, helping to create such explosive spectacles that speak to a vast worldwide audience that traditional runway shows cannot reach. Now with an international fashion house producing his creations, and a glittering contact book of stars wearing them, his ideas can spread around the world.
As a boy Jeremy was brought up on a farm (trivia fact: so was J.W. Anderson, and, sort of, Stella McCartney) but from the age of 14 he had French lessons because already his heart was set on Paris, and all the glitz and the glamour of the fashion industry. "That's where my passion lies," he explains animatedly. "I crashed shows, I crashed parties, I wanted to be part of all that too." Only seven years later, having finished a degree in design and an internship at Moschino, he flew out there so that his dreams could come true. Now he tells stories of sneaking into the secret world of Parisian fashion with the likes of young Eva Herzigova, or "baby Stella Tennant in her first season, nose ring and not talking to anyone", with girls that he saw in the pages of magazines and found wandering the streets, lost, looking for their shows. Without invitations, he found his way up-close to the catwalks of his heroes - the likes of John Galliano, Jean Paul Gaultier and Helmut Lang.
With Jeremy's own collections - his first, in 1997, was inspired by automobile accidents, constructed out of paper hospital gowns, and presented in a bar by Bastille - he attracted a lot of supporters in the industry. After only a few shows, Karl Lagerfeld announced that Jeremy Scott was the only man that could ever take over from him at Chanel. He attracted some haters too, but he's not bothered: "You live once and I don't want to leave a legacy of boring shit in the world. I'd rather be divisive."
Perhaps the most interesting thing about Jeremy is that he's designing clothes not so much for the fashion industry, but for those hanging onto its harsh edges, trying to find its trapdoors or secret entrances, dressed up for the clubs, whose door policies have always been sharper than the catwalk's. Because he was a club kid too. "When I was coming up, it was about communicating with your physical self," he says. "I really resonate with that because that's where I come from. Madonna came from the clubs too, so there's always a part of her that has that club, that dance, that street kind of attitude." Now he's making clothes for the mad bloggers and DIY party monsters, the sorts of daydreaming students who hang around outside the shows, who certain fashion editors would cross the street to avoid. With aplomb Jeremy explains that most of those people wear way more exciting things than what we see on the runway. "I don't understand why other people don't see that and think, 'Hey, it's not just weird eccentric kids trying to get attention.' They have millions of followers and they're actually making millions of dollars, some of them. They're resonating with a larger audience but fashion sometimes is too far up its own anus and doesn't see that people would like to have more fun things, more exciting things."
In 2001, Jeremy moved to LA, thousands of miles away from any fashion weeks. "I think of myself almost like a farmer here," he says of his confounding decision. "I'm growing my vegetables, making my prized pumpkins, my wonderful tomatoes, and then I come and take them to the markets for everyone to share and sell. That's how I have my relationship with New York or Paris, or any of the fashion capitals. I can participate in it, but I don't get stuck in it. I think if I was there all the time, I wouldn't farm. There'd be no vegetables."
Later, describing the actual farm on which he was brought up in Missouri, Jeremy recounts, "My cousin, she had a lamb as a pet, and the lamb would just walk into the house, and then walk out and go graze. The funny thing is that lambs and pigs and things like that grow really big, especially when you feed them table scraps…" Parts of his life could be lyrics to a surreal farmyard song. He had a sheep in his house. There was Miley's pet pig, whose hair he liked to brush. Now he's appearing on one of i-D's cover wraps with Bugs Bunny and a three-eyed teddy bear. Jeremy Scott offers hope to anyone who wishes to make it to the very top. You can intern at a company and end up its creative director. You can grow up on a farm and still dress the world's biggest pop stars.
"I want fashion to be a fun place for everyone," he concludes when I try to tempt him into telling us what he really thinks of the industry. "My passion came from when there was Mugler and Montana and Gaultier and Moschino and Lagerfeld, all these different personalities. Now, you could flip through fifteen shows and they look like one show. It's too corporate, too safe, too boring! I don't really care if you buy my clothes or not, I just want you to love it. I want to go down in history for touching people's souls." @itsjeremyscott
Text Dean Kissick
Photography Alasdair McLellan
Styling Benjamin Bruno
Hair Malcolm Edwards at Art Partner
Make-up Lynsey Alexander at Streeters London using Estée Lauder
Nail Technician Jenny Longworth using Chanel S2015 & Body Excellence
Retouching Output Ltd. Model Stella Tennant at Viva London
Stella wears trousers Moschino. Shoes Christian Louboutin