An outlandish visionary who’s designs rarely fall short of sheer spectacle, we’ve gathered up five of the most notorious moments from fashion’s most celebrated “enfant terrible” Jeremy Scott’s career.

A visionary whose candy-colored imagination, show-stopping creations and outlandish public image are unmatched by anyone in the business, Jeremy Scott hasn’t gotten where he is through subtlety. When his design chops aren’t being called upon by his star-studded squad of pop music’s elite – Miley Cyrus, Rihanna, Katy Perry and A$AP Rocky, to name a few – he’s slapping everything from wings to stuffed animals on adidas collaborations and churning out gaudy, pop culture-infused pieces as Moschino’s creative director.

His “more is more” attitude has left perhaps one of the most significant (and vigorous) imprints in fashion and pop-culture history, leading many to question his antics and call out his artistic inspiration. But whether he’s a nostalgist, plagiarist or all-around mentalist, Jeremy Scott has certainly left countless heads turning and many (many) people talking throughout his career.

As we look back at the life and times of the world’s most provocative designer with the recent release of the documentary Jeremy Scott: The People’s Designerwe breakdown five of Scott’s most controversial moments.

 

Shackle Sneaker

In 2012, the outlandish designer stirred up racial outcry when adidas posted a photo of their forthcoming sneaker collaboration ahead of its market release. The Jeremy Scott x adidas Roundhouse Mid “Handcuffs,” a revamped iteration of the Roundhouse silhouette, featured a yellow plastic chain and cuff attachment on the heel, which many viewed as an allusion to slavery.

After a flurry of negative attention, adidas was forced to pull the kicks from release, issuing the following statement: “The design of the JS Roundhouse Mid is nothing more than the designer Jeremy Scott’s outrageous and unique take on fashion and has nothing to do with slavery … We apologize if people are offended by the design and we are withdrawing our plans to make them available in the marketplace.”

Santa Cruz Skateboards Plagiarism

From sweaters printed with Bart Simpson’s mug to bright yellow dresses emblazoned with the visage of Spongebob Squarepants, JS has made clear his lust for youth culture and nostalgia. But while the designer managed to slipped past previously “repurposed” efforts, his Fall/Winter 2013 collection, which was littered with the gnarly faces originally designed by artist Jim Phillips for Santa Cruz Skateboards during the ’80s and ’90s, came under some serious fire for blatantly ripping off Phillips’ artwork without permission.

The show ignited outrage among skaters and non-skaters alike, reaffirming a common practice in fashion where designers appropriate and resell subcultures in their collections in order to appear “cool” to a stylish market. But after NHS, Inc. – the owners of the Californian skate company – threatened legal action against Scott, the designer had no choice but to cease the production and distribution of the plagiarized items. “I now recognize my mistake and out of respect to their work and their rights, the clothing and handbags at issue will not be produced or distributed,” JS expressed in an official statement.

 

Moschino McDonald’s Collection

Newly appointed as Moschino’s Creative Director, Jeremy Scott took inspiration from McDonald’s for his debut runway collection during Milan Fashion Week in 2014. Drawing a comparison between fast food and fast fashion, minimum wage workers found little humor in the designer’s irony and provocative wisecracks, accusing Scott of mocking McDonald’s employees. A New York-based McDonald’s employee publicly voiced her disgust against the Golden Arches-inspired collection, telling MailOnline: “I know the poor environment a minimum wage employee works in, and for people working in the highly paid fashion world to think it’s ‘trendy’ to wear clothes inspired by the uniforms we put on every day to feed our kids, or to buy a designer bag that is a parody of the meals we serve to earn enough money just to pay our bills; well, it just makes me sad.”

While he didn’t respond directly to the debate, Jeremy said this of his inaugural Moschino line: “McDonald’s is part of our everyday lives…When I design I always pull from things that are significant to me. In my work I search for happiness and then try to convey that joy in the clothes.”

 

adidas “Totem Pole Print” Collection

No stranger to parroting subcultures and throwing punchlines at various ethnic groups, the Kansas-born designer’s vision was yet again called into question following his Spring/Summer 2013 collection with adidas Originals. The line featured a series of tracksuits, shoes and dresses donning vibrant, cartoon-like renderings of Pacific Northwest Native American carvings – or “totem pole print” as some bloggers pinned it – and was criticized for devaluing the deep-rooted symbology behind the original artwork.

During an interview with Co.Design, Jessica Metcalfe, a professor of Native American fashion, art and design, stated, “Bizarre, garish, unpleasant and disgusting were several terms used to describe this outfit by people in the Native American community. Several individuals noticed that his inspiration was unoriginal, and that his take on Northwest Coast form line was ignorant, disrespectful and badly construed (in other words, Scott needs to work on his ovoids and u-forms).” Though no official statement was released on the matter, adidas chose to make the pieces unavailable to the American market.

 

Teddy Bear Sneakers

Though not brazenly contentious, these furry footwear left more than a few sneaker junkies and streetwear blogs scratching their heads in disbelief when they were first launched in 2011. The sneaks, offered in beige and bubblegum pink colorways, integrated a full-fledged teddy bear into the tongue and upper complete with free-moving arms. The first of many kooky JS collaborations with the footwear giant, the shoes were undoubtedly one of the most audacious pieces ever to emerge from an adidas Originals collaboration.

For more oddball behavior from eccentric designers, check out Rick Owens’ 10 Most Outrageous Moments

Words by Nico Amarca
Fashion Editor, North America
What To Read Next