Jeremy Scott

Interview by
Gert Jonkers
Photography by
Dino Dinco


I consider myself lucky to have seen several of Jeremy's hilarious fashion shows in Paris. Now he has moved to LA and he wants to pursue an acting career, and sing and meet more people. He would love to meet Michael Jackson. We thought maybe this conversation would help him get into Michael’s Neverland.

Gert: I found this on the internet about a film called Juice, from 1984: ‘Photographer working at the magazine “JUICE” has 48 hours in New York City to get some hot pics to meet the mag’s deadline. Starring Eric Ryan and Michael Christopher — talk about 2 nice fat cocks! Also starring Jeremy Scott.’
Jeremy: Oh yeah, there’s a Jeremy Scott porn star. There’s two of us. I was in a porn movie too, when I was little. My mom did it for money. But we didn’t have sex, ha ha. It’s called Linda Lovelace for President. The famous Linda Lovelace. I’m a baby, my mom’s holding me in a church scene, and Linda comes in and slips in front of my mom and she gets up and seduces the priest. I’ve never seen it, though.
Really? Aren’t you dying to?
Now and then I look on the internet. Of course, I’d love to see it. One day I’ll put an assistant on it, whatever, to find that cassette. Linda had so many movies. Deep Throat is her biggest, I believe. I mean, I’m not a big expert on this.
Is your name in the credits?
I have no idea.
Was your mother an actress?
Nah, she was just going to school and she did it for money. It happened to be on the radio that they needed extras for a movie so she drove her baby over there. I don’t know what money she got. We were so poor.
This was in LA?
No, Kansas City.
When were you born?
In ’73.
And your father? Do you know your father?
Do I know my father, ha ha ha! Do I know my father? Fuck yeah, I know my father.
I’m sorry, I guess this is really paternalistic, but since you were talking about your mother being poor and going to school I thought… it’s just stupid.
Yeah. My mother was poor, my father was poor, my brother and sister were poor. Poor poor poor! Ha ha ha. Of course I know my father! My mom and dad are still together.
And still poor.
Basically yeah. They’re not living in a mansion in Hollywood yet. They might, soon.
Would they like to?
No, they don’t wanna move. They wanna stay in Kansas City.
Are you planning to become rich?
Oh yeah.
You’re not yet?
Oh no.
Is money a major drive?
Well, there’s always gonna be someone with more money than me. My goal is to be able to live more comfortably, yeah, who wouldn’t? To do further projects. Wouldn’t you want more money? Wouldn’t you want to be able have that gorgeous shiny glossy full-colour paper for Butt?
Oh, okay. But I could have done something else, you know, if I wanted a lot of money.
I don’t think fashion is the best business to make money. I do it because I want to touch culture through clothes and shows and presenting the way we dress. That’s my way of speaking to culture. That’s my medium. To be able to speak to people.
How is it to meet people in the street wearing your clothes, especially since those often have your name or your face or your autograph all over it.
It’s nice. It’s flattering, especially since I only see really cool people wearing my stuff. That’s really nice.
So has your work been understood by the right people?
Yes, because I think it’s so specific. It’s not that broad, so it’s kind of all about the thing that embodies me, the way I look and what I do and what I say, and the way I choose to show and that whole lifestyle. I’ve never met someone that I thought, oh my god what the fuck is she doing with my clothes? It’s always cute kids and that’s the most flattering. It’s people I would like to know or would like to talk to, people who have similar interests too. That’s the whole thing about fashion: it’s not only about the clothes but also about the people. People who buy Ralph Lauren believe in this lifestyle that he embodies. I’m no different than that, even if I don’t have 4000 boutiques or this huge underwear line. It still embodies what I am.
I am youth culture, I am the guy with whatever fucked-up haircut. I’m definitely a new voice for a different generation.
Why more for women than for men?
Fashion in general is more for women. Period. Because women can wear more different things and it’s more acceptable. It’s just the way culture is. But I would do more men’s clothes if I had everything set up. I’m just still such a small company, I can’t really do everything the way I’d like to. And I’d hate to fuck it up. Better do one thing well than two mediocre. Plus, I think it’s more interesting to do women’s shows. That’s fashion. A fucking men’s show, is that really fashion? Does that really make your heart pound, does it get you excited, does it make you dream? No. Maybe that’s the thing. I don’t know if it’s possible, an exciting men’s show. I’ve never done it so I don’t know.
But you’ve gone to men’s shows. I remember seeing you at the Dior men’s show. You thought that was dull?
I didn’t say that. Don’t quote me on that. I’m not the best person to judge. I’m a creator, I’m not just watching. And I have such a singular, strong vision. Some people may be moved by Helmut Lang, which doesn’t move me at all. I have to create what I wanna see instead of waiting to see what others create and hoping that it fits in what I’m looking for. I have that responsibility to fill that feeling inside myself, what I love about fashion, ‘cause I don’t love that much of other people’s stuff. That’s why I’m a designer. Not that I’m ready to throw up all the time, but there’s not one singular voice of current time that I really like. I like old things, but what I have to do is to fulfill what’s missing. That’s why I’m constantly researching what’s missing, missing, missing! Fill that void, fill that void, fill that void!
Is that your drive?
That should be the goal of every designer. At least it is for me. What are we not seeing that we would like to see? What should we see? What are people doing? What are people doing that I don’t wanna do? I wanna talk about what’s not being talked about. I wanna make you question what you thought was disgusting, make you reevaluate what you thought was beautiful. And that may be why I’m a different designer. I came here to touch culture and not to sell as many clothes and to make money particularly. I did not come in to make the most perfect pair of pants. Yes, of course I want my clothes to be wearable, that’s not the question, but I want them to say something, and that’s as important as the perfectly cut pant. Like you said, an Yves Saint Laurent couture show is perfect, but it bores you to tears. Well, you know, I want to do something that’s exciting and innovative and also speaks to my generation and speaks to people that have the same ideas and thoughts and concerns and visual archives. When I started, people were saying: oh my god, the eighties duh duh duh duh duh. Well, of course these older editors didn’t like it; they lived the eighties for real. They didn’t dream about it, they were living it. We weren’t. I watched it on Dynasty, and I’m sure I watched the distorted version of the eighties, like a lot of people of my age. I did a Gold show that was controversial because it was gold. Tons of people said: this was the most horrible show, he’ll never design again. But after that it wasn’t only that suddenly everybody was doing gold, that it was a confirmed trend, but also all sorts of unusual shapes and forms that I did became a whole opening for a whole bunch of new designers. Also a lot of Dutch designers, you know what I mean? I was this new kid on the block in Paris, there hadn’t been anyone new here since Galliano, and I opened the doors for a huge flood of Belgians and Dutch. Which is good, to have something new. But the thing that I did one year was no longer controversial the next year, and that’s why I’m always researching. You have to grow and go on. Now I feel like this whole Dutch movement is kind of dead, it didn’t really progress.
Why do you think the rise and fall of Dutch fashion happened so soon?
I don’t know. But suddenly there were like 18 different Hurkedinke Burkedinke and Blablabla De Purkedonk. You couldn’t even say anyone’s name, it was crazy.

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Jeremy as himself at Chanel couture show in Paris, 2001

Did you see their stuff?
The only show I saw was Viktor & Rolf. I was very supportive of them when they started showing in Paris. And I was aware of the others, because at one point Totem was doing my press, and all of a sudden there were 18 thousand different Dutch things there in the same showroom. It felt to me like they were all weird past histories of my stuff. Like, there was a whole section that was all pink and strange volumes, and I had just done this pink collection and…on one hand it was flattering, but you have to move on, you know? I want to change constantly although I think you can always see my vision. If you look through the last ten shows I’ve done, there’s a huge variety, but you can always find me. It’s my goal to be modern and to always be recognized. That’s why Karl Lagerfeld is my favorite designer, because he is continuously modern, but you always recognize his work. But he’s not so pigeonholed like Saint Laurent, who didn’t evolve, who once did extremely avant-garde things, but he’s been stuck since 1981 or something. Unlike Karl…sorry to say unkind things about Saint Laurent, but who the fuck looks modern? Who the fuck wears Saint Laurent couture, or who wears Karl’s Chanel couture? Hello! The thing is, you have to keep up to the minute.
How does Karl do that?
He is on! Some people are on and some aren’t. He is on. He looks at everything, talks to everyone…it’s good to be open. If I dealt with only one type of people all my life, how boring would that be. To see the high and the low, to cross cultures…I’ve always done that. I want to feel the vibe in the street, and I think it’s healthy to ride the subway sometimes. I don’t enjoy it as a regular routine, but sometimes I’ll do it, I wanna look at people and see how they’re acting. Otherwise you’re so far removed and you’re in this bubble and you don’t know. You think something’s hot and it’s not. It happens with so many designers.
Why didn’t you really commercialize your name? You could have built a rather big and well-known brand.
I have.
You are not available in every department store on earth.
But I don’t want it to be that. That’s not my goal. There’s not that many fashionable people for my clothes to be that blown out. That’s why I didn’t sign contracts…not that I didn’t have the opportunities. I had the opportunities to do millions of different things. It’s just not what I wanted, because I am speaking for my generation, and my generation doesn’t want that. Frankly, my generation gets fucking tired of everything they see too much of, so it’s nature for me to be limited. And maybe I’m a little more extra limited ‘cause you can’t really choose the exact degree. I had to refuse certain clients because I could not fulfill certain amounts. Production is not like the volume on the radio.
Could you have sold more?
Way more. That’s the most frustrating thing. But I have to remember that it’s good that it’s not blown out. My stuff is special. That’s good, I like that. A lot of times strong things are special. That’s why the people who buy it buy it. It’s like nothing else they’ve seen. It’s unique.
You’re a totally personality-driven brand.
Yeah. I am what I am, you know what I mean? People say: oh you really studied that. Well, I didn’t study anything. I just am what I am, and I say what I say and do what I do and follow what I love. If I want to take pictures, I pick up a camera. It’s like that. All these rules…I want to pursue new things. I wrote a film script when I was 18.
How was that?
I didn’t finish it, I got sort of halfway. I wrote the perfect role for Madonna in it. That was the idea, to get her to finance the whole thing, and she would get the leading role, next to me. She would be this girl living with a bunch of gay guys, and I was one of them. And one day she’s raped. And the gays catch the guy and they all rape him. That was the plot. I typed it in my mom’s computer but I lost it. I searched for it recently, but I can’t find it anymore. It’s nowhere.
So scriptwriting was one of the many things you did. And you design, and you make photos, and you do styling, and you’ve been a deejay, and…
…I wrote for V, I’ve done interviews for TV, and now I’m moving to LA, because I wanna act. And I wanna do costumes if the right movie comes along, one that would motivate me to create something. I don’t wanna do costumes to recreate today, I wanna do something amazing, fucking futuristic or something fucked-up mystical, something that’s creative. Not something that is boring. And I’m writing songs now. I’ve done two songs, working on a third.
What is it?
It’s electro pop. I do the lyrics and the singing. Someone else will do the melodies.
You are going to sing?
I was a country singer when I was twenty or twenty-one.
Really? Oh my god, I wanna hear.
Do you have titles for your songs?
I Wanna Be a Popstar, Siamese and New Chicago.
I’m dying to hear. Are you a romantic guy?
Hmm, what does romantic really mean? I don’t know. What would it entail, being a romantic person? I’m not a big candle lighter. That to me seems romantic.
Yes, and taking your lover for a stroll along the beach.
Yeah…I guess I’m not romantic. Not in that way. I guess I’m too hyper young.
What was your first affair like?
That was when I was 14, and he was 16. He drove a Mustang convertible from the 60s. He was a big Smiths fan and a big Dr. Who fan.
So do you think of him when you watch Dr. Who? Last night when I called you, you were watching Dr. Who.
Well yeah, I did, cause I never watch Dr. Who and now I have these cassettes, and I thought: what the hell is going on, what did he like the show for? Those talking machines are really weird.
Was it a happy affair?
Well, I was 14, he was my first boyfriend, what do you think? He was really cool, he was a singer. Do you think about your first lover sometimes?
I do, yes. Were you a happy teenager?
I’m happier now than I was then. I was a bit confined. All that pressure, the school, the city, I was just too much for it. I was too strong for school. Obviously going to high school in the Midwest was an ordeal, looking the way I looked, dressing the way I dressed, which was way, way, way more extreme than anything I’d do now. Clothes were all I had to express myself.
High heels? Make-up?
No high heels, not a lot of make-up, but you know, looks. Different things every day. That was the only way I could express fashion. It was me and my friends, three girls who looked perfect. I would always dress them, do their styling. They were like three different houses that I worked for, I totally overlooked their looks. I was a little baby Karl Lagerfeld, ha ha. We talked about clothes over the phone at night, and I went shopping with them. I was like: no Theresa, that’s not you, no no no, Quihn already got that. I was really obsessed by what they wore.
What were their names?
Quihn, Cherie, and Theresa. Quihn was called Quihn Fo, we always called her Quihn Vogue, of course. She was the one that we pushed too far, and finally she got sent from school for wearing things that were too controversial. I remember she came to me and she was crying because she got sent home, and I was like: oh my God, that’s amazing, this is so good, I’m so happy!
When was your first time in Paris?
I was 18. I had discovered fashion a few years before, and I immediately turned my F into an A in French class. I said: I’m coming to Paris, Gaultier Lagerfeld Mugler Montana! I was totally obsessed. I thought these runways were reality, that the people in Paris all looked totally like on the runways. The attitude, heads up. Little did I know, that they look like garbage here, no hair, no make-up. I was totally living this false reality that I’m still coming to terms with today. I want people to push looks.

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Jeremy as a statue at Jeremy Scott pret-a-porter show in Paris, 2001

You studied in New York for how long?
It was a four year school, but I did it in three years.
And then you were in Paris for six years and now you’re moving to LA. Funny move for a fashion designer. It’s more happening in Paris, one would think.
Well, LA is the most fashionable city I’ve ever been to. People really wear the stuff. It is like: Hello, what has dictated fashion most recently, is it Hollywood and more recently television or what? Who’s shoulder pads in the eighties really mattered, was it Mugler’s or was it Nowan Miller’s in Dynasty? It was Nowan Miller’s in Dynasty. That was watched in every country in the world. Nobody in Bangladesh ever saw a Mugler image or a show. And what do I wanna do? Touch culture. I never wanted to be underground. That was never my goal. I want my vision out there. That’s why I’m going to LA. Why do you think today everybody has these fucking Jennifer Aniston hairdos? ‘Cause she’s in Friends, you know what I mean? Where does the stuff come from? From TV, Hollywood, stars, celebrities.
Okay, so you’re moving to LA. Would you want to live with somebody?
Yeah. I like people.
Start a family?
Nah, no kids. I’m not naturally supposed to have kids, and then, if you have kids, you have to devote your life to them. I don’t wanna devote my life to kids. I wanna devote my life to myself.
Are you in love?
Am I in love? Well, hmm, no…
Have you been in love recently?

Are you dating someone?
It’s all very vague. That’s what I want to do next: go out with people, have fun. I lived in Paris for six years and I never dated French guys. If that answers your questions. I had a German boyfriend for a while.
You were not that compatible in Paris.
I’m still curious about what could have happened with you in Paris. There were so many rumors, all the time. Like that you were talking to the Gucci Group for business. What did Tom Ford want you to do?
What he wanted me to do?
Yes. Did he offer you to start Jeremy Scott as a major brand?
Hmm, can’t really talk about it.
What about Pucci then?
What about Pucci?
Weren’t you asked as designer for Pucci?
Yeah, people brought it up to me. I think Pucci is pretty self-sufficient. It’s a pretty constricted house. There’s this Pucci-print, and that’s it. And when that print is popular, great, and when it’s not, eh, not so great. It’s so one-sided as a brand. That’s not me. What can I do? They need a good person for ideas like: let’s do Pucci beach towels. I don’t want to do that. And have you heard about Pucci recently? No. That’s what I mean. There’s very few houses that have a heritage that I would want to invest myself into.
Would you want to do an eighties house like Mugler?
Well, Mugler is still doing Mugler, isn’t he?
I mean, it could be a bit funny, but it’s also so one-sided. The whole thing is, I don’t want to do someone else’s thing. I created my own name and my own vision. You can love me or hate me, but no one can tell me it’s not me. No one can walk out of my show and say: that was not a Jeremy Scott show. It’s always me, and not me trying to be someone else.
Okay, but what really intrigues me then is that you want to become an actor. Acting is somebody trying to pretend he’s this other character. That’s why I find actors the most unexciting celebrities on earth, they’re always trying to be somebody else. So I’m curious why you want to pursue acting.
Yeah, I have already been told this by many people: don’t try to act in a role. It’ll be the same thing as Madonna, where it’s not believable, it’s her. In Desperately Seeking Susan it was perfect. She basically played herself. I guess it’s the same with me. I can play a role that’s similar to me. I can play a small role. I can easily be a male prostitute and play the look.
You could do the male prostitute?
Yeah. And I can play a fucking designer, an interesting young fucking LA photographer, someone who thinks he’s the shit. I could play someone who thinks he’s the toast of Paris. With a 12-inch cock. But I could also do not very well at all in this acting. You know, I have the right to dream. And maybe, who knows, with the right thing, I could fit into it. I’m not planning to be the fucking new Brad Pitt. That’s not my goal. I would like to do something like Andy Warhol when he went on Loveboat. Interesting things. I would love to play David Bowie doing Ziggy Stardust. I think I can do it but maybe I’d be horrible.
Yesterday I saw a girl wearing a Jeremy Scott jeans skirt. With your face stitched on the back pocket.
Did you ask her if she was sitting on my face? Ha ha ha. I wanted a logo that was a bit like the Jordache horse. And since my hair is already looking like horsehair…it felt natural to put my face on the clothes.
Oh, and when did you decide to always pose with your head turned.
Ha ha ha!
I want to look good in photos, you see? And I obviously don’t have a perfectly symmetrical Linda Evangelista face.
And you’re a vegetarian.
Yes. I ate meat, of course, I’m from Kansas. But I’ve never eaten fish.
Not even when you lived in Japan?
No. How do you know I lived in Japan?
You once told me.
Okay. Yeah, I lived in Japan for a while when I was 16.
What’s your weight?
140 pounds.
Do you prefer cats or dogs?
I like dogs.
What’s your favorite color for pubic hair?
I never thought of that. I think I prefer the brown genre.
Do you in general prefer brunets to blondes?
I go for individuals.

Originally published in BUTT 3