In con­ver­sa­tion with Adam Rip­pon.

Gay Times Magazine - - CULTURE - Pho­tog­ra­phy Mar­cus Mam As told to Wil­liam J Con­nolly

Jeremy Scott’s suc­cess as cre­ative di­rec­tor of sig­na­ture fash­ion house Moschino has blended fresh, fierce and fab­u­lous de­signs with an ev­ervis­i­ble queer tilt – high­lighted through­out with the ac­com­pa­ny­ing im­ages be­low. He is, by all in­tents and pur­poses, a pi­o­neer of the mod­ern fash­ion world that’s vis­i­ble (and proud) within the main­stream. With stars in­clud­ing pop star Katy Perry, in­ter­na­tion­ally ac­claimed model Gigi Ha­did, and even the queen her­self (Madonna that is, not HRH El­iz­a­beth II), Jeremy’s con­nec­tions and friend­ships speak for them­selves – and have left us scream­ing at the col­labs.

But when friend and Team USA ice skater Adam Rip­pon ar­rived at the 2018 Os­cars back in March, the en­tire world gaŠed when he werked a clas­sic Jeremy Scott x Moschino suit with added black har­ness. With Gay Twit­ter hold­ing its breath and im­ages of the look go­ing vi­ral, it be­came an iconic mo­ment of queer vis­i­bil­ity at what can some­times be­come a bit of a rigid awards show. But more im­por­tantly, it ce­mented a new friend­ship be­tween the pair.

Here, the cre­ative di­rec­tor of Moschino speaks to the Team USA ice skater about the im­por­tance of queer vis­i­bil­ity in an era of re­bel­lion, his daily tor­ment of phys­i­cal abuse as a queer child at school, ho­mo­pho­bia in the fash­ion world, and re­calls the time he draŠed Madonna... quite lit­er­ally across the floor.

Adam: Ready?

Jeremy: I’m ready!

AR: When de­sign­ing clothes, how much of your­self are you putting into the de­signs, and how im­por­tant is it to you that your cre­ations and de­signs fit within the Jeremy Scott brand? JS: I think I’m a ves­sel. I’m open and have to be open to a higher di­vin­ity to al­low me to have those in­spi­ra­tions and have those cre­ative mo­ments, and that they process through me and come out as my work. I don’t re­ally un­der­stand where they come from or how it hap­pens, and I don’t know the me­chan­ics be­cause I try not to dis­sect it but be as pure as pos­si­ble. I leave the dis­sect­ing to other peo­ple and give my purest form and my love and heart to ev­ery­thing I do. AR: I’m sure your aes­thetic has changed. I’m cu­ri­ous to how you think it’s ad­justed to where you are now? JS: I re­ally be­lieve it’s linked to the times we’re liv­ing, so that’s why when peo­ple talk about the mini skirt and things were great and this hap­pened in the 60s, it’s linked by ev­ery­thing be­cause true fash­ion doesn’t re­ally stand alone as time is about the pol­i­tics and is about the eco­nomics and so­cial mor­rows. There’s this con­struct and then within fash­ion it­self there’s moods. When I started, my first show was 1997 or 1998, there was a dif­fer­ent mood in fash­ion. I was find­ing my legs by dis­cov­er­ing who I was and I was a much maybe darker de­signer for lack of a bet­ter term. I’m a very pop de­signer and colour­ful, so when I first started, I didn’t think about that or see it in those terms – even if it’s who I was in or­der to be able to get my bar­ing and have my voice come through my work.

AR: Now the team is bi­er, do you find you’re able to push more bound­aries?

JS: Ab­so­lutely! I’m able to do so much more be­cause I have so many more re­sources at my fin­gers, and things I had to push up a hill on my own back I don’t have to do that. It can be the most gen­tle email of me think­ing about this. It’s amaz­ing and I think there’s a lot of cre­ativ­ity com­ing from con­structs, like be­ing in a box say.

AR: We’re both peo­ple from small towns... where are you from again?

JS: I was born in Mis­souri and raised about an hour out­side in the farm­land there.

AR: Think­ing back to that time out on the farm­land, when did you dis­cover and feel you were a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ent?

JS: I was just me and I didn’t think any­thing of it and no­body re­ally judged me. Com­ing into a city en­vi­ron­ment when we moved back to Kansas City in fifth grade, I never cursed. I was ob­sessed with these not-al­ways-boy things like Cyndi Lau­per and would get on the bus. I don’t know how I con­vinced my­self but I’d walk off the bus with a lace table­cloth with these black 50s pumps from my grand­mother. I still had my short boy hair and a blonde mess. I lit­er­ally thought that no one knows it’s me. That’s when peo­ple used the word faŠot and I had no idea. I didn’t even un­der­stand that con­cept and I wasn’t think­ing sex­ual or sex­u­al­ity – I was ex­press­ing my­self.

Then the kids start­ing get­ting mean and I wanted to quit school. Peo­ple were re­ally tor­ment­ing me and I had... I feel like I’m fine and healthy to­day, but I was tor­mented through el­e­men­tary and high school. There wasn’t a day go by that some­body ei­ther didn’t call me a name, phys­i­cally push or have an al­ter­ca­tion, or threaten me. It was ha­bit­ual. It was go­ing to hap­pen at one point in the day – the first cou­ple of years were hideous. Pic­ture day be­fore school, I got chased down the hall by a skin­head who told me he was go­ing to kill me. The foot­baller play­ers don’t like me, these peo­ple don’t like me, these other fringe group of my friends don’t like me. It was in­tense but those things I be­lieve also give you strength and for­ti­tude to be or­der to make the chal­lenges later in life. Not that I would ever want any­one to en­dure it to be truth­ful, but I have to find the bright side to it in that re­spect.

AR: Within the fash­ion world, have you ever ex­pe­ri­enced ho­mo­pho­bia?

JS: I don’t feel like I’ve ex­pe­ri­enced ho­mo­pho­bia in fash­ion. I’ve been bul­lied, it still hap­pens and on­line bul­ly­ing still hap­pens to­day – it’s alive and well.

AR: When you started work­ing and you’re out in the pub­lic more, were you al­ways open about your sex­u­al­ity?

JS: I never felt, es­pe­cially within fash­ion, like I needed to come out or say any­thing dif­fer­ent as it was al­ways so known and un­der­stood. I’m more shocked when I see peo­ple write ‘is he gay?’. It’s like, come on – are you kid­ding? I’ve al­ways been a lit­tle more pri­vate about my pri­vate life just be­cause that’s al­ways deal­ing with some­one else’s world and life. I also thought it was okay to have that mys­tery of who I was ac­tu­ally dat­ing or with. That seemed very per­sonal and I al­ready feel like I given so much of my­self, hav­ing a lit­tle bit of some­thing per­sonal is nec­es­sary and healthy, but I never would or have been ashamed of be­ing gay – not since be­ing an adult. I don’t even know if I was ashamed when I was a kid.

My first boyfriend was when I was 14 and he was 16, and he wanted me to go to prom with him; I re­fused. I said I can’t do it be­cause he’s grad­u­at­ing and I will be for the next three years ‘the faŠot that went to prom’. No­body else will be there to pro­tect me or be with me, and he would be at col­lege – I’ll be alone. I couldn’t do it and it wasn’t the cli­mate. 1989 and there wasn’t Ellen on TV com­ing out yet, there wasn’t Glee or these things. It was a whole dif­fer­ent world and I was in a place that still doesn’t re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate it very much be­cause it’s a pretty con­ser­va­tive place. I don’t know that I have a re­gret but I think about it some­times as I think if I could’ve been that per­son. It wasn’t my des­tiny to do that. I did end up go­ing to my prom the next year with my best friend who is a les­bian and shaved her head bald, and we caused con­tro­versy just with that alone.

AR: I look back and wished that I came out ear­lier, but what you’re able to do now so well is be that some­body that the per­son from the small town can look to. The land­scape is chang­ing so much be­cause of peo­ple like you...

JS: And you. And you, love.

AR: That’s so im­por­tant. I feel like I owe it to my younger self to say some­thing be­cause no­body was say­ing any­thing when I was grow­ing up. I didn’t want to be alone, just like you were go­ing through that process. Do you see fash­ion shift­ing be­cause we’re in an LGBTQ lib­er­a­tion, and the #Me­Too move­ment?

JS: Yes. I think it’s a nat­u­ral sit­u­a­tion, and even if I just look at some else’s work. Louis Vuit­ton showed sev­eral women that I thought were men, and they were wear­ing suits. I had to read that they were women. They’re so an­drog­y­nous say, and the look was so mas­cu­line. In all dif­fer­ent ways it def­i­nitely is. I will say the pop­u­lar­ity of both of our favourite show Ru­Paul’s Drag Race. I will be truth­ful, and this might be sad, but I also worry be­cause pen­du­lums spin so far to one side that some­times they come crash­ing back to the other. I re­mem­ber Ru­Paul’s first orig­i­nal com­ing around as I was in col­lege; see­ing Ru go­ing to see a fash­ion show ten feet taller than ev­ery­one else and the pop­u­lar­ity of the Su­per­model time think­ing this is for­ever. And then it wasn’t for­ever, and cul­ture did change, and she’s a leg­end and it’s a great sec­ond com­ing be­cause of cul­ture, but there was a time when there wasn’t some flam­boy­ant drag icon part of pop cul­ture – and spawn­ing oth­ers.

Part of me is want­ing to cling to this mo­ment and en­joy it be­cause you don’t know how long it will last. I mean, even with shit that’s go­ing on with Ka­vanaugh, feel­ing like we’re be­ing rail­roaded into hav­ing some hideous, con­ser­va­tive frat boy change the spec­trum of the Supreme Court that can re­ally, truly af­fect you and I. They could make it no longer pos­si­ble to be legally wed or start deny­ing our rights and things we’ve worked so hard for as a com­mu­nity and peo­ple. Even when I think cul­ture is on our side and sta­tis­tics show peo­ple aren’t so freaked out about gay men be­ing mar­ried or gay women be­ing to­gether, you and I both know there’s places – and they’ve made it le­gal – for them to refuse us to buy a fuck­ing cake. It’s like... who the fuck do you think makes bet­ter cakes than faŠots? Get the fuck real. I can’t help but still be pan­icked and why, for my show, we made a hand­writ­ten anti-Ka­vanaugh t-shirt I wore at the end. There’s noth­ing more im­por­tant that I can do to use my plat­form to hope­fully in­spire some­one else to be aware, call their sen­a­tor, hope­fully some­thing can hap­pen. Or, just be com­pletely trans­par­ent about how I feel and not make some­one else feel alone. AR: You’ve worked so many big celebri­ties in fash­ion, mu­sic, Hol­ly­wood. Do you have top mo­ments that stick out that were re­ally fuck­ing cool? JS: One is with Madonna. Madonna was there from when I knew what mu­sic was, so tak­ing her as my date to the Met Gala... they have the booths where you dance and they have a video of it for so­cial me­dia. Danc­ing with Madonna where we ba­si­cally did an im­promptu mu­sic video and I’m draŠing her by her leg while she’s on her back pos­ing which I lit­er­ally got in­spired to do while we were danc­ing. Then she’s rolling on the floor and I’m like ‘yeah I’m go­ing to grab her leg and pull her’. I’m mother-fuck­ing pulling Madonna’s God­damn leg and draŠing her, ok? Yeah, that was a mo­ment. When we walked away, I said to her, ‘I know you know this, you’re one of the world’s best dancers ever.’ In my heart, and I’ve said this to her, she’s a dancer who wanted to dance so badly she made a pop ca­reer to get a ca­reer of danc­ing. As you know, there’s not a lot of op­por­tu­ni­ties for dancers to make some longevity of a ca­reer, and she turned her love of dance into be­ing a pop star. I was like, ‘Danc­ing with you, just know, is one of the best mo­ments of my life.’ She was so cute like, ‘Oh thank you.’ I was think­ing are you crazy? It’s like... she should’ve just been like, ‘Duh, like come on, let’s go get our food’. That’s high up and an amaz­ing mo­ment – some­thing I cher­ish.

AR: I felt like when you dressed me for the Os­cars, I got caught up in a full Jeremy Scott ex­pe­ri­ence. The in­ter­net ex­ploded a lit­tle bit... JS: Yeah, it’s a huge mo­ment!

AR: What you were able to put out there on the car­pet, I was the ves­sel wear­ing it and I felt su­per bad-ass. Do you think there’s a rea­son that con­nected with so many peo­ple, and in par­tic­u­lar the queer com­mu­nity?

JS: I think it’s a biŠer mo­ment than even you and I know or ex­pe­ri­enced. I will tell you gen­uinely, it’s one of my proud­est mo­ments. You are the first per­son I’ve dressed for the Os­cars, ever. Within that, you did it purely. You were a ves­sel of my cre­ativ­ity. You weren’t a dumbed down one, you helped turn the vol­ume up as I wouldn’t have put the har­ness with that jacket as I didn’t do it orig­i­nally. Even though I had them on one thing and an­other, you be­ing an in­spi­ra­tion pulled that and asked to try it. We did it and it looked so good.

AR: Let’s talk about Moschino join­ing forces with Ciroc. I wanted to know what we can ex­pect, the fa­mous faces you’ve got in the cam­paign. I’m su­per ex­cited, it’s a lot of fun, so I want to hear all about it...

JS: Ah, thank you. One thing I love about do­ing my work is be­ing able to be part of dif­fer­ent parts of cul­ture and do­ing things in a way out­side of fash­ion and clothes.

“I’m mother-fuck­ing pulling Madonna’s God-damn leg and draŠing her, ok? Yeah, that was a mo­ment.”

When Ciroc was like ‘Would you make a bot­tle?’, I thought that would be fun. To do this cam­paign where I use my fash­ion like a magic car­pet and bring this other feel­ing into this world that reaches so many other peo­ple. And so, I thought about some of my muses and Jas­mine Golden Bar­bie was num­ber one on my list be­cause I love her, I love her beauty and I love her per­son­al­ity. I just love her vi­brancy and she’s su­per mod­ern in so many re­spects for be­ing mul­tira­cial to be­ing just one of the loveli­est peo­ple. She’s also some­one I launched on my show and I’m a big fan of her. River Vi­iperi who is also a model that I launched when he started and has done my show so many mil­lion times. I brought two main muses for the cam­paign, and then we have Wizkid, Cassper (Re­filoe Phoolo) and Thando (Tha­booty Tha­bethe) from South Africa to have this very won­der­ful and global mix of dif­fer­ent peo­ple and dif­fer­ent per­son­al­i­ties. It was a fun thing to do, it was a fun thing to film and I think Jas­mine and I are do­ing a New Year’s Eve party in Brazil... if you want to come?

AR: Let me get my ticket!

JS: Ex­actly! I’ve never done a New Year’s Eve party in my life be­cause I’ve al­ways been re­ally su­per low key as I do par­ties all year around. I al­ways just go to sleep be­fore mid­night.

AR: I al­ways do that, too!

JS: This is go­ing to be my first time but I feel it’s go­ing to be chill be­cause it’s on a beach in Brazil. It’s the per­fect way for me to do a cel­e­bra­tory party but it’s not go­ing to be some Ve­gas night­club kinda thing.

AR: It’ll be easy for you to sur­vive.

JS: Ex­actly. Sur­vive as I cel­e­brate the new year.

AR: You’ve got­ten to work with so many peo­ple,

I want to know if there’s some­body you want to work with that in­spires you and you want to dress? Who is next on that list?

JS: My life goal is still to dress Dolly Par­ton. I love her and I think she’s the clos­est thing to god­li­ness I’ve ever seen on this earth. That’s why Katy (Perry) brought me to meet her that one time, and she did say to me, ‘Do you think you could ever make me some­thing?’ I was like, ‘Of course, just name it. I’ll do what­ever you want.’ She was like, ‘It’ll be fun if you made me a lit­tle some­thing some time.’ She put out this lit­tle wire, we’re still chit-chat­ting so hope­fully the right thing will come up where she needs my magic dust sprin­kled all over her with tonnes of crys­tals and se­quins, as she al­ways should be adorned in. Iron­i­cally, she’s one of the few peo­ple I’ve been starstruck by.

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