LONDON, United Kingdom — Jeremy Scott took his bow in trousers that proclaimed POWER in giant letters. He has it now, in the wake of his social media makeover of Moschino, but, humble as ever, he doubted that inscrutable British art duo Gilbert & George had a clue who he was when he joined them for tea at their 18th century house in London's East End. Scott has always loved their work, particularly a laddish series from 1982 — “We’re both gay provocateurs,” he enthused — and all he wanted was their approval for his plan to turn his new collection into an homage to their images. What he actually got was entirely unexpected. Gilbert — or was it George? — said, “Well, why not just use the images themselves?” Which is how the Moschino menswear collection for Autumn/Winter 2016 turned into The Gilbert & George Show.
It was such a bizarrely bold move to begin with, it would have been a crying shame if what showed up on the catwalk had fallen flat. But it didn’t. Scott used the artists’ saturated stained glass palette to full effect. POP! went the menswear — a whole repertoire of outfits with a two-dimensional cartoon-ish vim, tricked out with more of those giant words HOPE! FEAR! LIFE! and trompe l’oeil wrinkles painted into the cloth. Like clothes in a painting, in fact. The boys and girls had paint in their hair too, keeping the illusion alive.
If Gilbert & George supplied the style, Scott drew on UK youth cults for the substance. One more time at the rodeo for mod precision and punk anarchy, complete with bondage pants and hand-painted Doc Martens. The designer managed a striking hybrid of tailcoat and bondage harness, well within Gilbert & George’s subversive mandate. In fact, it was a true testament to Scott’s generosity of spirit that it was ultimately the duo’s imagery that co-opted his catwalk. But he’s a smart cookie. The crosses, the flowers, the photo-images of young male faces writ super-large across t-shirts will be the things you’ll see coming at you a mile away next Autumn.