Perhaps the most surprising thing about the Moschino x H&M collection is that it didn’t happened sooner.
Moschino’s creative director, Jeremy Scott, is certainly known for his collaborative spirit at both his own namesake label and the Italian fashion house he’s helmed since 2013, and he doesn’t mind if you point that out. “No, no, it’s true,” Scott says while sitting at the conference table in his office at Moschino’s headquarters in Milan. “They call me the king of collaborations. That’s fine.” The wall behind his desk is a testament to that. On one shelf sits a Moschino Barbie doll, on another a Moschino SpongeBob bag. Ephemera from the brand’s fall 2015 collection, which heavily featured Looney Tunes, is interspersed among other objects that show off Moschino’s own unique iconography as well. “Memory lane of my four years going on five,” says Scott.
The toy chest–like display could have also doubled as a mood board for the wares he’s produced for H&M. While some designers can approach collaborations—especially of the high-meets-low variety—with a withholding hand, doling out just a percentage of their brand’s DNA, Scott has opened the Moschino floodgates. The result is a Moschino x H&M collection that many may not be able to tell from the simply Moschino, at a glance. There are all the elements you’ve come to expect from Scott’s tenure at the house (notably, the use of cartoon characters, Mickey Mouse and his Disney friends, in this case), as well as some that dig deeper into the house’s archives (that signature gold-hardware-on-black aesthetic and, of course, a dash of societal subversion here and there), and some that are unusual for this type of collaboration (a liberal use of the brand’s logo, and collaborations within the collaboration). Indeed, it was actually H&M that had to bend its standard practices, rather than the other way around. The collection includes more accessories than previous H&M designer collaborations, and, intriguingly, while the Swedish-based chain never puts its logo on the outside of its own clothes, it did allow Scott to use a mashed-up “H&Moschino” mark.
“I just really thought, What could make it the most Moschino collection, you know? I wanted it to be as if I had a fifth collection this year, instead of just four,” said Scott. “And so I thought, What are all the ingredients and the elements that people expect from me?”
H&M’s creative adviser Ann-Sofie Johansson, whose role includes overseeing the retailer’s designer collaborations, was instantly on the same page. Her team had selected images from recent Moschino collections that could serve as inspirations, and was pleased to find that Scott was already thinking the same thing.
“He knew that he wanted to have some of the overt Moschino pieces, like the vintage Moschino pieces, and then mix that together with something that may even be more him, like the cartoons and the MTV things, which is very much all this kind of pop culture phenomenon that he loves,” says Johansson.
To that end, they got the cartoon holy grail: Disney. While it’s not the first time Scott has used the company’s trademark characters (he repurposed Mickey Mouse’s face as a sneaker tongue for his Jeremy Scott x Adidas line several years back), it is the first time he was able to give the full Toontown gang the Moschino makeover.
“For one thing, I think there’s always a nostalgia. We all grow up with them. They’re still going on today,” says Scott of his cartoon obsession. “Globally, you see a circle and then another two circles and nothing else—and it’s like Mickey Mouse. It makes you think about happiness and joy, and that is something that I think is really great, and something I always try to put into all of my designs.”
Also nostalgia inducing? Pieces featuring a mashup of the MTV logo with Moschino’s own, and a print that features compact discs. (“They weren’t around in the ‘90s,” says Johansson of some of Scott’s younger fans. “They find MTV and the CDs to be very exciting.”) But it’s the T-shirt bearing the words “Ready to Wear” over an image of a rolled-up condom that really evokes the old days of the brand’s founder, Franco Moschino, and his trademark subversive wit. Johansson says Scott had to fight a little bit to have the item included, but is ultimately pleased it was.
“I just thought people aren’t speaking enough about safe sex anymore, and I thought this is one place that I could use this message to kind of get that out there,” says Scott. “I’ve done so many slogan shirts referencing that kind of twist on ready-to-wear, which is something that Franco played with.”
The idea of an affordable collaboration with a mass retailer seems right in line with a house whose founder once told British GQ, “The ones who really understand it are the ones who can’t afford it, the people out there on the street.”
Likewise, Scott is more than happy to see his creations on a wider audience. “That’s the ultimate compliment for any fashion designer, I feel like, when people are wearing the clothes, loving the clothes,” he says. “What I love about my job is that I can be part of people’s everyday lives in that way. And they build memories, and sometimes those memories involve my clothes. Whether it’s because someone stopped them and said, ‘Oh, my God, I love that backpack,’ and maybe they hit it off and ended up getting married one day.”
Though the aim is to offer some of that Moschino magic at a lower price point, the collection is being rolled out with as much hurrah as any high-fashion product in recent memory. Scott announced the collaboration in conjunction with Gigi Hadid at a party during Coachella back in May. Hadid also stars in the ad campaign shot by Steven Meisel. Scott is planning a runway debut for the collection later this month that he promises will be just as glamorous as a regular Moschino show. Even the look book is star-studded, with a mix of entertainers like Pose’s MJ Rodriguez, The Florida Project’s Bria Vinaite, and the RuPaul’s Drag Race winner Aquaria alongside top models like Teddy Quinlivan, Barbie Ferreira (who was recently cast alongside Zendaya in an upcoming HBO show), and Dilone.
Scott, of course, sees the collaboration as worthy of the rollout.
“They floored me with their ability to make the quality so wonderful and at the same time keep the price point so accessible, and that was a big, important element,” said Scott. “I was apprehensive at first when they approached me because I really wanted to make sure that the quality feels high-level and authentic to the brand itself, too. They came through in spades, and I couldn’t be more excited about that.”
So, on the heels of this happy marriage, could there be a future H&M collection with Scott’s namesake label? “He would love that, I think,” says Johansson. “I don’t know, we’ll see.”