How do you celebrate a 40th anniversary when your creative director seat is empty? If you’re Moschino, you enlist four bold-face stylists and invite them to pull ideas from Franco Moschino’s archive and reinterpret them for today.
Moschino died of AIDS-related causes in 1994, not much more than 10 years after founding his label, and yet his legacy still looms large. He did nothing by half measures, making camp fun of fashion world proprieties, in particular the Chanel tweed suit, and printing words across his clothes to get a rise out of his contemporaries or just to get a laugh. Years before the dawn of the internet, he was a social media designer, aware of the power of fashion to send messages.
The stylists’ parameters tonight were to focus on that first decade of Moschino. Carlyne Cerf de Dudzeele, who worked alongside Jeremy Scott for the 10 years he was at the label, was first up with a series of looks that appeared to play against type, emphasizing elegance where Moschino was better known for extravagance. Au contraire, she said backstage. “Mr. Moschino loved all the classics, so I decided to do this. No extravaganza, just clean, sublime, and chic.” Think: khakis, jeans, a white suit, a Perfecto jacket, a chunky turtleneck sweater, a heather gray hoodie, and a white T-shirt, plus a Kway-style jacket of the kind she likes to wear, only in taffeta. She pointed out that it was all mix-and-matchable.
Next up was Gabriella Karefa-Johnson, a Vogue contributor and stylist whose clients include Altuzarra and Etro, with something completely different. “The vibe is cunty cowboy,” she said. “Moschino was known for subversion, there was always a flipping-it involved. So I thought, what’s something in his language that I could flip as a Black woman? I decided it was the cowboy hat. It’s the most white, masculine symbol on planet Earth.” Tapping into Moschino’s maximalist tendencies, she aimed for “visual dissonance,” resurrecting a granny square skirt from the archive, patchworking denim and lace, adding beaded fringe to a tie-dyed cocktail suit, and, yes, tossing in a couple of cowboy hats.
Lucia Liu, a stylist based in Beijing, went looking for a link between her own aesthetic and Moschino’s and found it in his florals and knitwear. “Those elements, they were separated in his original designs. I put them together to make something that feels very new.” Also in the mix in Liu’s romantic designs: ruffles, bows, and cut-out hearts.
Wary of anything that felt too historical or reverential, the stylist and founder of Perfect magazine Katie Grand found herself drawn to Moschino’s slogans. “It was the idea of what he would do if it was a slogan for now,” she said. “‘Loud luxury’ is what came to me. It felt current.” We’ve definitely heard enough about quiet luxury. With a troupe of energetic dancers, choreographed by Wayne McGregor, wearing her black and white looks, there was nothing quiet about this portion of the show.
Moschino himself railed against the way fashion clung to the past. Though he may not have approved of the idea of a 40th anniversary celebration, it’s a good bet he would’ve been tickled by the variety and vitality that the stylists saw in his work.
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This article was originally published on Vogue.com.