In the era of fashion-as-entertainment, it’s amazing it took this long for a designer to stage a full-fledged runway extravaganza at an actual Hollywood studio.
Jeremy Scott did just that Friday night in Los Angeles, bringing a monster of a Moschino Resort collection to the Universal Studios backlot’s eerily blissful suburban Americana stand-in for “Leave it To Beaver,” “The Munsters” and “Desperate Housewives.”
It was the culmination of a lifelong dream for the designer, who has ambitions to make a film of his own one day à la Tom Ford, and remembered the first time he visited Universal Studios from Kansas City at age 13 in typical aw-shucks fashion: “We stayed at the Sheraton. I was with my family, and I told the other people in the hot tub I was going to be a famous star one day…I didn’t really think I was going to be a fashion star.”
The show was scripted from the moment guests entered the gate of the studio, hallowed ground for Alfred Hitchcock, Steven Spielberg — and for Hollywood’s most prolific costume designer, Edith Head. With a short video of Scott as tour guide, guests took the backlot tour trams, rolling past sets for “Psycho” and “Jaws” and murals of classic Universal horror characters like Frankenstein’s monster, Dracula, the Creature from the Black Lagoon and Wolf Man, some of whom made cameos in real life during the theme park experience.
Guests were seated outside on the backlot’s “Colonial Street” facing manicured lawns and freshly painted houses, before the opening scene: screams, a woman running door to door for help, and the chilling Michael Meyers “Halloween” riff. Then the all-out monster mash began, with nearly every horror movie archetype represented in spectacularly spooky fashion for men and women: skeleton tracksuits, slip dresses in jack-o’-lantern and laughing ghost prints, a corpse bride in a white tulle gown with black roses in hand, a mummy in unraveling bandage print gown, a screen “goddess” in King Kong’s grip, Dracula in a silk cape and devil horn baseball cap, a scarecrow’s patchwork suit and more…and more.
The collection spanned an astounding 90 looks, which one wished one could take in under better light (who would have thought the light would be better outdoors at Thursday’s Saint Laurent Malibu beach men’s show than outdoors at a Hollywood film studio?). But there was still plenty to tickle the senses — and the hairs on the back of the neck — in this only-in-L.A. experience bringing fashion and film together, which made a strong case for bringing even more runway shows here.
Scott’s references spanned the decades, from a pair of terrifying twins out of Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining” to the tethered monsters from Jordan Peele’s recent hit “Us.” It was an extraordinary display of next-level showmanship and layered workmanship. Indeed, what kept it from feeling too much like a Halloween costume parade were the details: couture-like (delicate gold chain spider-web embroidery on a gown, and 3-D fuzzy black spiders embroidered on a pink brocade lady coat); edgy-street (biker jackets with embroidered neon Frankenstein’s monster’s “scars” and suits in a Universal-licensed monster mash-up print), and sweet as trick-or-treat candy (“Beware of Moschino” bags and ghost-sheet draped backpacks).
God help ’em if they can’t deliver by October!
Afterward, the show kept going at a block party with food trucks and drinks.
Before he could leave the studio street from taking his bow, Scott was mobbed by friends and celebrity fans, including Storm Reid, Paris Jackson, Liberty Ross and hubbie Jimmy Iovine, Luka Sabbat, Quincy Brown (who brought his pet snake to the show in what might have been the most Hollywood moment of all), and hunky Ross Butler, who whispered to the designer, “Mate, you’re going to be taking my job one day.”
Others who were there have been part of Scott’s L.A. support system since way before he was at the helm of an international luxury brand, including costume designer Arianne Phillips, who shared that her next project, Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time In Hollywood” opening July 26, shot for three weeks at Universal. “The most memorable thing about this place is hearing stories from Universal Costume because I work there a lot, about Edith Head who had it as part of her contract that every day she had to come out and wave to the Universal tour buses coming by. Having Jeremy and Moschino here makes perfect sense. I can’t think of a more deserving designer,” she said.
“It’s the first time we’ve ever had a fashion show on the lot ever,” said Stephanie Kraus, senior vice president of global design and product development at NBCUniversal, which licensed imagery of the Mummy, Dracula, Wolf Man and other monsters for prints used on a handful of pieces in the collection. “I loved the energy and the interaction,” she said, hitting on a future fashion trend that will likely play out across town in the rival Modelland theme park that Tyra Banks is opening in Santa Monica.
Universal has been busy in the high-end fashion space this year, working with Raf Simons and Calvin Klein to license creative material from “Jaws,” Prada from “Bride of Frankenstein” and The Hundreds from the studio lot’s new monster mural artwork by L.A. street artist Tristan Eaton. (The 35th anniversary of “Back to the Future” is in 2020, so expect lots of activity around that, Kraus said.) “With Jeremy, it’s always over the top. And every time, it’s bigger and better,” she said of collaborating with the L.A. designer, who licensed artwork from Good Luck Trolls for his fall 2019 Moschino collection.
“The game show was already very theatrical,” Scott said of his February runway outing, and setting the bar higher and higher with his increasingly immersive fashion experiences. “I love entertainment and pop culture archetypes, that’s who I am. To mesh it together and do a spooky couture show on a real Hollywood set and give it that authenticity, that’s where fashion comes alive.”