There's much chatter in the industry today concerning the ever-blurring line between high fashion and pop culture — what with designers like Balmain's Olivier Rousteing boasting over a million Instagram followers and palling around with the likes of Kim Kardashian and Rihanna — and how the increased accessibility that social media provides is allowing designers, once relatively behind-the-scenes figures, to become celebrities themselves. Jeremy Scott, the man behind his eponymous Los Angeles-based label and the creative director of Moschino since late 2013, has long been an advocate of this democratization of fashion. In turn, he has become a bona fide superstar from New York to Milan to Hollywood, with a level of fame that's high enough to warrant a full-length documentary about his life — "Jeremy Scott: The People's Designer" — which hits theaters nationwide on Friday.
Over the course of New York Fashion Week, I attended three events centered around Scott (his spring 2016 runway show, his movie premiere and a Moschino in-store event hosted by Tumblr and Paper magazine), and boy, can the man draw a crowd. Lines of young fans wrapped around the sidewalks at each venue and screamed out his name — rather than those of the super-famous friends that turned out to support him, like Paris Hilton, AnnaSophia Robb, Bella Thorne and Victoria Justice. But it's clear that the pandemonium doesn't fluster Scott, and as much as he wants to create fun, zeitgeisty collections for his admirers every season, he wants to inspire them, too.
The film, directed by Vlad Yudin, is successful in doing just that. It's essentially a rags to riches tale: Scott grew up in rural Missouri, with dreams of one day moving to a fashion capital and becoming a designer. After being bullied in high school and getting his application denied from FIT upon graduation, he soldiered on until he was eventually accepted to Pratt Institute, where he learned the techniques necessary to make his wacky designs a reality. Graduation wasn't any relief: He found himself unable to secure a job at a fashion house after picking up his life and moving to Paris, and endured brief periods of homelessness and rummaging for fabric scraps in the trash. But in true protagonist fashion, he refused to quit, and his suffering ultimately led him to create his own (and now very famous) brand.
Cameras followed Scott as he prepared for the biggest moment of his career — his debut collection for Moschino — and audiences are given a rare look into the nitty-gritty of the industry (model castings, for example). They're also introduced to Scott's inner circle, including his right-hand man Pablo Olea and eccentric French stylist Carlyne Cerf de Dudzeele, who have helped the designer bring his vision to life over the years. Many of his celebrity pals have cameos as well, including Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, Rita Ora and A$AP Rocky. Despite being so popular, Scott still considers himself an outsider in the fashion system — much like the late Franco Moschino — something that's highlighted through interviews with naysaying critics over the course of the film.
But whether you actually like his comical, pop-cultural designs is no matter. You're left rooting for Scott as the movie comes to a close — and, perhaps on account of his vulnerability and humility throughout, also wanting to give him a hug. Chatting with Scott at the Moschino store this week, I learned that's probably the sentiment he was going for all along. "I value people over things; I try to do what I do as my way to touch people's lives, to share and put my arms around people," he said. "Sometimes my work can be misunderstood, but I'm just trying to bring joy and a smile to people's faces. My clothes aren't for everyone to wear, perhaps, and I don't expect everyone to. But hopefully you can still enjoy them."
Throughout the documentary, Scott reminds viewers of his humble beginnings: He was simply a "boy from a small farm with a big dream" before his hard work paid off and his fashion fantasies became a reality. Hopefully, after watching the designer's big screen debut, all of the club kids, the misfits, the Internet obsessives and the dreamers who flock to him will believe that theirs could, too.
"Jeremy Scott: The People's Designer" hits select theaters on Sept. 18, and you can watch the trailer for the film below.