5 Questions for Fashion's Jeremy Scott

Jonathan Durbin

Outrageously colorful and invariably witty, runway shows from Jeremy Scott have long been one of Fashion Week's highlights. For spring, the Los Angeles–based designer was inspired by one of his favorite topics: New York City, in particular Lower Manhattan's early '80s art scene. No stranger to collaborations, Scott—whose winged Adidas sneakers are favored by fashion-forward youth the world over—worked with artist Kenny Scharf on prints for his new collection. (Scharf was close friends with Keith Haring, and integral to the art scene Scott references this season.) The designer sat down with nycgo.com to discuss his inspiration, stylistic vision and what he loves about NYC.

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In years past, you've referenced a variety of sources. What has inspired you this season? Jeremy Scott: It's all about New York City of the early '80s, the Bowery and Lower East Side scene, and the feeling, the energy of that moment. I wanted to represent its characters—Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, Kenny Scharf—and bring them to life. I got the chance to collaborate with Kenny on prints for this collection, which was amazing. I've been trying to figure out the right thing to do with him for a while now, and I'm so happy we got the chance. It was so much fun.

In addition to imaginative, outlandish styles, you're known for sending message T-shirts down the runway. One of last season's was “Adults Suck Then You Are One.” Any special messages this time? JS: Just to give some context, I was thinking about Teenagers from Outer Space, the B movie from the 1950s, and also the Misfits song [“Teenagers from Mars”]. I was imagining what would happen if aliens were stranded here, thinking of that John Waters or early David Lynch vibe—kind of garish and art house, but referential to 1950s. So the message is “Earth Sucks,” which is a play on the one from last season and also a riff on the horror movie.

What brought you to show during MADE Fashion Week? JS: Virgin America! [Laughs] I've gone back and forth between showing in Paris and New York, and I feel like I sit between the two. Maybe there's a European sensibility to my work, but I'm an American. I love this country and the aspects of fashion that it's known for; I've been a proponent of sportswear since the beginning, trying to lend a glamorous take to it, like, say, a tuxedo jacket made out of fleece. Showing at Milk is important to me, because it's a place where fashion is created all year round. It feels organic.

You attended Pratt in the mid-'90s. What was Brooklyn like at the time? JS: It wasn't as gentrified as it is today. I loved Pratt, loved the school, loved the whole college campus environment. Two of my best friends now were schoolmates of mine, though they weren't studying fashion. The school is so great because it's interdisciplinary. We learned [subjects like] photography and art, too. Fashion is my medium. It was really the right place for me.

When you come back to New York, what do you like to do? JS: I love the Strand Book Store—I love that it's still standing. I love tacos at La Esquina. I love that macrobiotic place, Souen. I love Juice Press and wish we had that in LA. I love just walking through SoHo, the Lower East Side, lower Broadway. I love how you just run into people you know, and have a chance to catch up. It's so pure.