Fun in Fashion with Moschino’s Michelle Stein and Laura McLaws Helms

25 October, 2018

After working in the fashion industry for over thirty years, Michelle Stein, the president of Aeffe, appointed Jeremy Scott as creative director of Moschino. For her conversation with our dear friend and fashion historian Laura McLaws Helms, Michelle brought along a few archival pieces, as well as some included in the upcoming Met exhibition on camp, to share. Together, they gave us a glimpse of some of the most iconic, fun, and fashionable designers of the last few decades.

Elsa Schiaparelli's collaboration with Dali: the Shoe Hat (1937).

“Elsa Schiaparelli’s main enemy was Coco Chanel. They hated each other, competed constantly. In an insult, Coco called her, ‘that Italian artist who makes clothes.’ Which, if you think about Elsa Schiaparelli only being friends with Francis Picabia, Man Ray, and Dali, would be the ultimate compliment.”

Laura McLaws Helms

Elsa Schiaparelli's novelty sweater featured in Life Magazine.

“Novelty sweaters for teens with boys’ phone numbers! This is from a Life magazine article, which recommended that you cut out, using felt, your own phone number and put it over that, so any boy could know your number and call you... which I don't think they'd recommend anymore.”

Laura McLaws Helms

Our penthouse library filled with guests for our 42nd Truth-tellers and Troublemakers Salon.

“The fun fashion we've outlined was always a reaction to what was happening historically, and always a way to put a fun, happy, upbeat face on what was not, and boy do we need it now.”

Michelle Stein

Moschino ''Stop the Fashion System'' advertisement from 1990.

“Moschino was always questioning fashion, questioning why we conform to certain fashion mores, and why we don't break free. That, in a way, defines what fun in fashion is. It means you're not a wallflower: you're not conforming to the norm and the homogenous idea of fashion.”

Michelle Stein

Moschino advertisement from the mid '80s, which was refused from every publication for being too provocative.

“Moschino had quite an Italian tilt to what he does, whereas Jeremy Scott is so corn-belt American. All of those items are taken in a very tongue-in-cheek, surrealistic, ironic, provocative manner, and then made into clothing which is really interesting.”

Michelle Stein

Patrick Kelly spreading the message of joy and happiness in the early '90s.

“The late '80s, early '90s, there were quite a few designers all trying to find joy through fashion, like the American Patrick Kelly, based in Paris. You can really see these models he was using were happy, really joyful.”

Laura McLaws Helms

The iconic ''Pencil Bag'' by Christian Francis Roth.

“The pencil bag! Roth was sued by Crayola because they wanted to do their own collection, and he got to it first by appropriating something that was such a part of our youth. I just remember smelling crayons when I was a kid; I can still remember the smell of burnt sienna.”

Michele Stein

Moschino's creative director, Jeremy Scott.

“Jeremy was my intern over 20 years ago, and I remember the day he came into the office. He had a very interesting look: very heavy raccoon-eye makeup and a semi-mohawk. He was wearing a skirt, and this was a farm kid from Kansas City, who had great aspirations. He's very political. He speaks out.”

Michelle Stein

Runway show of Moschino's Fall 2014 ''Fast Food'' collection.

“You can make a lot of fun fashion, but you want to see people wearing it. It's easier to wear intarsia (sweaters with surface embellishment and applique), to incorporate them into your daily wardrobe. But color is a key component and so is subverting everyday elements.”

Michelle Stein

Michelle Stein (left) and Laura McLaws Helms (right) speaking in our penthouse library.

Words by Michelle Stein, Laura McLaws Helms, and The Editors. Archive photos: Michelle Stein and Laura McLaws Helms. Event photos: Helga Traxler.

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