The statue of Arthur Wellesley First Duke of Wellington sitting outside the Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow remains one of the best known features in the city centre. Both locals and tourists love it for a very special reason: the Duke often sports a traffic cone on his head, though, at times, the cone is moved on his horse's head, in an endless exercise at poking fun. Dating back to the first half of the '80s, the cone exercise has become so loved that the local council had to face public opposition when it threatened to remove it.
Guess after Moschino's S/S 16 show, the plastic cone on the Duke of Wellington will not be considered as an offence anymore, but as a trendy accessory. Traffic cones were indeed among the key elements for this collection in which Jeremy Scott tried to combine couture with traffic jams, hazards, roadwork and construction zones.
The runway was a jungle of barriers and road signs, some of them warning "Dangerous Couture Ahead", "No Parking, Couture Zone" and "Clothed for Construction" among the others.
The first models donned classic Chanel suits and pussy bow blouses reinvented in safety reflector style in glowing orange and yellow with silver high visibility bands. Traffic cones were turned into bags or headdresses, or they were combined with floral images and printed on classic couture dresses in a Marie Antoinette-meets-Balenciaga-meets-workwear situation.
There were interesting results such as the coats and dresses made with a perforated lace fabric that perfectly reproduced plastic safety nets (a more wearable fabric version of Joy Villa's plastic traffic fencing dress at the 2015 Grammy Awards designed by Andre Soriano?); but there were also tiring moments in which black and yellow plastic safety lines were used as huge decorative bows, or to decorate opera gloves and sandals, while a print of two interlocking C shaped clamps imitating Chanel made you wonder how far we can stretch the borrow/copy exercise on modern runways.
Helmets proved another theme as they were employed as prints on dresses or turned into veiled headdresses or bags. Accessories were actually the strongest point with sign posts, assorted hardware and mechanics' tools dangling from belts and necklaces and spanners being used on necklaces and earrings; bags were shaped like toolboxes and lunch-boxes, but there were also caution tape sandals and boots inspired by safety shoes and traffic cones.
Franco Moschino's mottos were turned into jokes: "Caution: open trench" read the back of a trench coat; a red octagon with the slogan "Shop" (rather than "Stop") appeared on a little black dress; "Slippery When Wet" read a wet look T-shirt dress, while a swimsuit came with a red, circle-and-slash "bikini prohibited" sign and a blue evening gown was surrounded by an arrow and a lit up neon sign announcing "Car Wash Entrance" that pointed at the space between the model's legs.
An interlude section featured Scott's latest licensing deal - the Power Puff Girls (what's up for the next collection, the Teen Titans?) on dresses, swimsuits and handbags - followed by the second part of the collection.
Industrial rollers set into motions, bubbles blared and models came out in designs inspired by drive-through car washes: there were feathered, fringed, furry and fluffy pieces replicating the rotating brushes of car washes, plus tops and dresses with detergent adverts and evening gowns with prints of neon signs.
The finale closed with monumental '50s prom dresses: mounted on an underskirt made of layers and layers of tulle, they were based on a Dior meets a cartoon pin up concept and they featured taillights from a 1950s Cadillac that really lit up. Imagine the magnified and trashy version of Prada's motor heels circa S/S 2012 and you get the idea.
The car theme has always been popular in fashion, as seen in a recent post as well, but, while there was nothing intellectual about this collection, there was one notable things in this collection - milliner Stephen Jones made the veiled hard hats and traffic cone headdresses.
For what regards the contents of the show, well, they are in line with what Scott has been doing so far at Moschino: Chanel style suits interpreted as fast food uniforms, as Barbie dresses and now as work gear and safety wear, with the occasional Balenciaga design thrown in and remixed in a Pop Art key.
For the time being all is well as the big show productions are repaid by social media hype and the visual Instagram appeal of the Moschino runways, plus the sale of the accessories, but the house has turned into a brand (as announced by one of the designs emblazoned with the words "Brand", "New" and "Look"), producing more iPhone plastic and rubber covers than clothes, and essentially generating a lot of media revenue.
This is the stuff the dreams of social media are made of, and you can bet that we will soon see some kind of celebrity or fashionista wearing the most bizarre outfits on this runway.
What is surprising, though, is seeing so many people considering Scott as a genius: we have seen hi-vis wear turned into sequinned glam pieces on Ashish's A/W 2013-14 runway (View this photo), while Anya Hindmarch A/W 2015-16 collection was launched just a few months ago with a catwalk featuring road workers and fun road signs (View this photo) on clothes and bags (View this photo).
There were even more correspondences between Hindmarch's and Moschino's previous supermarket inspired collections.
You could argue that Moschino's S/S 16 collection was an ironic and fun, Pop Art twist to a rather common theme, but this would in return prove that Scott is another talented remixer rather than a genius designer.
The timing, though, for a collection that had some links to cars was perfect: Volkswagen admitted just a few days ago cheating emissions tests in the US and is currently busy playing a mea culpa act, while Lapo Elkann, heir to the Fiat automobile fortune, "designer", founder of the Italia Independent brand and coke head, was sitting in the front row at Moschino's with Anna Dello Russo clad in a Moschino "Sale" dress (such an eloquent description of her - yes, we knew she was on sale). Judging from the audience the only sign missing on he Moschino runway was one that stated: "Warning: C***s sitting the front row". Hopefully, we'll get it one day.
In the meantime, wherever you go, don't forget your plastic traffic cone (or simply steal one from the street), it may turn into the vital key accessory for the next Spring/Summer season or even for the Paris fashion shows due to start in a few days' time.
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