Yes, Moschino Was Bad, But Not Because of Spongebob

Alright guys, let’s talk about it. Jeremy Scott’s Moschino show was… well, it was something. At the very least, it has elicited some pretty polarized reactions. But amid the choruses of “subversive genius!” and “cheap pop culture trash!”, no one seems to be honing in on the real issue: appropriation of commercialism and pop culture can be subversive and brilliant, but only if it’s good.   

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Moschino has always had an eccentric, kitschy, tongue-in-cheek air about it, and the brand certainly knew what it was in for when it hired Jeremy Scott. After all, the man put stuffed pandas on to sneakers and sent models down the runway in plastic bodega shopping bags. It’s safe to say Moschino was ready to raise some eyebrows.

So no one should be surprised that Jeremy Scott, he of the Coca-Cola minidress and the sequined Superman gown, decided to try his hand at making the Golden Arches, Nicktoons, and various other symbols of brash consumerism into fashion. But even beyond accepting that Scott is trying to re-mix pop culture, we should acknowledge that this is a worthy pursuit. Using popular consumer symbols to comment on society’s relationship with celebrity culture or advertising is nothing new. Scott’s Spongebob fur coat, at its core, is hardly different than Warhol’s Campbell’s soup cans.

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The difference here is that Scott’s statement, if there was one at all, lacked any depth or developed viewpoint. A Chanel-style skirt suit in Big Mac colors hardly feels subversive when Karl Lagerfeld himself is doing neon tweed and Lego-block clutches and holding shows in rodeo venues. In terms of pure whimsy, are Spongebob furs really that far off from Fendi’s fox fur mohawks and fur monster baguettes? But if you are going to go so far as to use a piece of pop culture to make a statement, you better make damn sure it actually says something. You can’t get away with sweeping a candy wrapper into a gown and assuming you’ve made your point. For the record, covering a black woman in stylized chocolate packaging hardly counts as a statement.

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It is equally important to note that some of the looks just fell flat. The logo-bedecked denim get-ups felt forced and out of place with the rest of the show. The yellow spotted boots recalled terrible Jeffrey Campbell Litas in a way that I wish I could unsee, but couldn’t shake once it struck me. The close-cropped wigs felt like an US Magazine feature on how NOT to pull off J. Law hair. Once the sensationalism wore off, the show simply lacked substance.

But look, it’s not all bad for Scott. He’s still finding his footing at Moschino and perhaps he can reign it in a little, managing to save the histrionics for his eponymous label. There, his flair for the dramatic has shined brightest when it approaches things with light-hearted humor. And if you can’t get enough of Scott, he’s also just dropped another collection with Adidas, where Hermes-style winged shoes and metallic teddy bears seem to make sense. Let’s hope he keeps them there.

Images via Style.com