the moschino effect
Fashion loves an autograph session, especially in the autumn months leading up to Christmas. Over the past couple of weeks, Dame Vivienne Westwood, Ann Demeulemeester, and Valentino Garavani have all held fabulous book signings in London, and received their (selected) publics and the industry like the niche fashion monarchs they are. But for Moschino, who hosted a similar event at Harrods yesterday, it was no regular fashion meet-and-greet. In the place of a fancy coffee table book was the brand's new perfume, TOY, and instead of a queue of cordially invited guests were 120 adoring fans, lucky enough to be first in line to get their perfume box signed by Jeremy Scott.
If it sounds like a One Direction album signing at HMV, well, it was and it wasn't. Jeremy Scott's tenure at Moschino is still just two seasons young, but it's already characterised by a phenomenal re-invention and popularisation of the brand, which seemingly aims to retain Moschino's high-fashion status but promote it to a mass market of the young, fun but artsy bubblegum segment to which Jeremy Scott - and to a certain extent, Moschino - has always catered. If his two first collections for the Italian brand, tributes to McDonald's and Barbie, pitched the extreme level of pop cultural marketing Jeremy Scott is going for at Moschino, staging a perfume release like an album signing scored the definitive touchdown.
The flacon alone - if, indeed, it can be called that - is the stuff of fangirl dreams: hidden within a teddy bear wearing a 'This is not a Moschino toy' t-shirt, you have to unscrew the teddy bear's head to uncover the dispenser, and the whole thing is wrapped in a classic 80s windowed toy box with scribblings such as 'Touch me' and 'Try me' plastered across the front. It's cute, quaint, and quirky in that ironic way that means it's cool. For Scott, the teddy bear motif has been a career theme of symbolic materialistic significance similar to how Jean Charles de Castelbajac famously used it, but in the context of the American designer's new era at Moschino, the teddy bear's connotations are something else.
When fangirl mania was at its height circa early-mid 90s and teen idols like Take That were climbing a never-ending fame ladder, their hordes of fans would bring teddy bears to concerts and outside hotels, throwing them at the bad as tokens of their support. With the teddy bear as their mascot, this generation of ultimate fangirls displayed the innocent, childlike obsession that lies at the root of fandom in pop culture, and portrayed the spirit of materialism and unapologetic commercial opportunism it generates. Franco Moschino created his house in a time when the foundation of this kind of excessive 90s fandom was being built - courtesy mainly of Michael Jackson and Madonna - and while his work dealt more with the consumerism of the time, brand idolisation was a huge part of Moschino's genetics.
In a post-Lady-Gaga world where we've analysed fame to no end (so much so that Gaga has lost hers almost altogether), the Moschino version of Jeremy Scott represents a new kind of idol but also a new kind of fandom. As comparable as Moschino's new fame and followers are to historical cases, 'the designer' has never taken on the role of pop star quite like Mr Scott, who courts his public and makes himself accessible in a different way than megastar designers such as Karl Lagerfeld or Donatella Versace. Because Moschino deals in the subversion of low culture to high culture - hold on, we'll be leaving Fashion Theory mode in a few lines - the brand can successfully stage an HMV-style signing without losing its chichi value.
By tooting the fast fashion horn from the point Scott first joined the brand, and making collections immediately available after each show, Moschino is actively making its entire brand approachable to a market of consumers, who might have been spritzing themselves with Curious by Britney Spears before losing their fashion virginity to Moschino, and are now instead daubing themselves - which would be the fashion term - in TOY. Young fashion fans swooning over anything with a Chanel logo on it is nothing new. But whereas there's a long way from a pop star eau de toilette to a Chanel parfum, Moschino is a fun and friendly first step on the stairway to high fashion paradise. And in Jeremy Scott, it even has a younger, cool designer idol to squeal at, tween girl style, too.
Here's where it gets extra clever: because this is fashion and everyone is obsessed with anything remotely young or younger than them or someone else by default, the reciprocated young fangirl appeal of the new Moschino is making the old-timers pay attention to the point where they want a piece of the cake, too. Take for instance Anna Dello Russo running around in a pink Moschino Barbie dress at Jeremy Scott's post-show dinner in Milan this season, or the countless generously tanned, middle-aged Italian women sporting the candyfloss-coloured accessories around the streets of Milan in the days after the Moschino show. They were, after all, only a click and a credit card number away on the website, et voilà: you're young with the young.
Fan clubs were always unconditionally welcoming establishments. Fashion, on the other hand, is definitely not. For Moschino, the challenge will be to maintain its mainstream approachability while guarding its place in the high fashion hall of fame, and vice versa. Meet-and-greets with fans off-season is a luxury, which won't be possible to match during fashion week. At least the way the system works now where only 800-1000 guests attend each show, all primarily press, buyers and celebrities. Perhaps the next step for Jeremy Scott's Moschino is an altogether bigger scenario on level with the huge, televised Victoria's Secret shows, featuring pop star performances and ratings to match The Vampire Diaries, where the idol-to-fan relationship can blossom beyond way the realm of a live stream.
Text Anders Christian Madsen
Photography Harry Carr Moschino spring/summer 15