No Joke: Jeremy Scott Is Leaving Moschino

Fashion is about to get a little less funny. In yet another major industry surprise, Jeremy Scott is leaving his post as the creative director of Moschino, the brand’s parent company said in a statement on Monday. His departure ends a 10-year tenure that rejuvenated the brand by using it as a vehicle to poke fun at consumerism while simultaneously celebrating it in visual stunts tailor-made for the Instagram era. No successor has been named.

After the designer Alessandro Michele left Gucci in November, the move will further reshape the Italian fashion world, where Mr. Scott’s ability to inject a kind of ironic postmodern pop humor into clothes catapulted Moschino to new relevance.

The brand became a favorite of celebrities such as Miley Cyrus, who once wore a Moschino T-shirt dress splashed with the words “I had nothing to wear so I put on this Moschino dress,” and Katy Perry, who wore a Moschino chandelier and a Moschino hamburger to the Met Gala in 2019.

Massimo Ferretti, the chairman of Aeffe, the group that owns Moschino, in a statement thanked Mr. Scott for “ushering in a distinct and joyful vision that will forever be a part of Moschino history.”

Mr. Scott, 47, who grew up in Kansas City, Mo., and studied at the Pratt Institute in New York, was only the third designer to lead the house, which was founded by Franco Moschino in 1983 to celebrate the virtues of elegant irreverence. After Mr. Moschino’s death in 1994 from complications of AIDS, Rosella Jardini took over, gamely carrying on the legacy until Mr. Scott arrived in 2013 with his own sense of subversive humor.

Almost immediately, his way with a fashion pun resonated with a generation reared on social media (so much so that in 2015, Mr. Scott was tapped to redesign the “Moonman” statuette given to winners at MTV’s Video Music Awards). Mr. Scott sent riffs on McDonald’s and Barbie down the runway, made Le Smokings that were literally smoking in a nod to the Bonfire of the Vanities, and last September created an entire ode to inflatables because — well, you know, inflation (and who can’t use a life raft now and again?).

When Covid-19 put live fashion shows on hold, Mr. Scott presented a collection worn by marionettes crafted in Jim Henson’s studio. He populated the show’s pseudo front row with puppet versions of fashion editors like Anna Wintour and Edward Enninful, inviting watchers to ponder the question of who in fashion really pulls the strings.

A dress Mr. Scott designed for a Moschino collection inspired by game-show kitsch, which featured an entire TV dinner on its train, played a starring role in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s 2019 exhibition “Camp: Notes on Fashion.” (That dress was one of about 15 Moschino outfits in the show.) Alongside the runway stunts, Mr. Scott was canny enough to offer special collections with T-shirts and phone cases, allowing everyone access to his Moschino world.

Sometimes the jokes could fall flat, but overall the result was a boom in sales, at least until last year. In 2022, Aeffe — which also owns the brands Alberta Ferretti, Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini and Pollini — reported a loss of nine million euros (about $10 million) on revenues of 352 million euros (about $377 million), thanks in part to complications in China.

“He took chances, but always with a sense of fun,” said Robert Burke, the founder of a namesake luxury consultancy, of Mr. Scott. “He was a great match for Moschino.”

Though Mr. Scott had maintained his own eponymous brand throughout most of his time at Moschino, in recent seasons it has been put on hold. Whether it will now be revived, or whether, as he once suggested, he will move into movies, Mr. Scott did not reveal. In a text message from Seoul, where he is introducing a new collaboration with Hyundai, he simply said, “Every book has chapters and as I end this chapter, I am excited to share with the world my next chapter.”

It is unclear whether Mr. Scott’s tenure at Moschino ended because of a shift in the general mood in the industry, which is turning away from buzz-making theatrics and toward “timelessness” as sales of classic luxury brands including Chanel and Hermès soar, or whether, as some conventional wisdom has it, a decade is simply long enough for a single creative director to helm a fashion house. Both Mr. Scott and the Aeffe group declined to elaborate on the statement announcing his departure.

Meanwhile, the fashion game of designer musical chairs continues.

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