This season, during Milan fashion week, Moschino (pronounced mo-skeen-oh) released a spring ready-to-wear collection centered completely around the iconic Mattel maiden, Barbie. Models in on the Milan catwalk strutted in towering studded pink heels, sequined denim, brand toting sweatsuits and the like. The girls’ heads were piled high with platinum extensions, faces waxed to a plastic sheen, and eyes ringed with double sets of false lashes. The previous week, in London, the Italian fashion house debuted a collection of suits and dresses plastered with larger-than-life Coca-Cola logos, yellow smiley faces, stars and stripes, and the Union Jack.
With these two shows, Moschino, under the direction of Jeremy Scott, continues a trend of exploiting brand names and popular iconographic images in their collections. Last season, Scott created a line of McDonalds-themed couture, bright yellow “M”’s (standing in for both company names) emblazoned across red sweaters and french-fry shaped phone cases. These collections, splashed with stolen corporate emblems, shocked the fashion world much in the way Franco Moschino, the brand’s founder, did with his work in the 1980’s.
The Moschino brand was founded in 1983 and created ripples across the industry as soon as it launched. Franco Moschino thumbed his nose at fashion standards, favoring unconventional designs that many labeled garish. In the following years, the company continued this trend and grew to be a household name, even partnering with Target to bring the designs to the people en masse. Moschino’s most iconic creation may have been that of the Moschino belt; the company’s name branded the waistlines of thousands of people in thick gold lettering throughout the early 21st century.
In 2013, Rosella Jardini, the designer who had guided the brand with Franco Moschino’s original intentions at heart, retired, and Jeremy Scott took her place. In these past two seasons, Scott has made an indelible mark on the brand, embracing the playful allure of the Moschino name and taking it to new levels through the appropriation of more cultural icons..
Scott has a history of borrowing imagery for his designs and using unmistakable pop-culture references to turn heads. In 2013, he was sued for plagiarizing the designs of Santa Cruz skateboards, and his collaborations with Adidas have featured Mickey Mouse, teddy bears, and 8-bit graphics. What is perhaps most intriguing about Scott’s designs is that what sets them apart—what makes them remarkable—is their heavy reliance on unremarkable imagery. The trademarks Scott plays upon are littered all about us, yet in his collections, they gain new worth. A pink leather jacket costs $19.99 for a doll —and $2,675 for a human. Many have accused Moschino of “selling out,” of relying on other brands to sell his own work. Scott, however, does not seem phased by this criticism. His clothes sell well, and in an interview with the New York Times, he stated, “Ultimately, we need no more clothes. We could function with everything that’s on the earth right now. So you have to have this reason to want things. To me, it’s to make you happy, and to me, that’s linked to humor.” When it comes down to it, Scott has fun with his designs, and consumers lap it up; whether or not his style choices are original or respectable is irrelevant.