Rihanna in a Vintage Moschino Couture Coat from Shrimpton Couture.
“I often refuse the name of fashion designer. It’s a superficial, stupid job. The social-psychological aspect is more interesting,” the late Franco Moschino once alleged. With all due respect, the fashion designer was protesting way too much.
Moschino, whose first American retrospective opened the other day at the Mint Museum Uptown in Charlotte, North Carolina, was a fashion designer above all. Known for his wild humor, his irony, his enthusiasm for Surrealism, and his penchant for biting—at least metaphorically—the fashionable hands that fed him, he was also a master tailor, an exquisite craftsman.
Who else would embroider “Waist of Money” on a jacket where you might expect a belt? Or stick an actual napkin and real cutlery on a minidress? Is there another designer who obscured hats and scarves with dozens of miniature teddy bears? Or offered a man’s perfect white shirt whose exaggeratedly long sleeves wrapped around the body like a straitjacket and whose back panel proclaimed, “For Fashion Victims Only”?
Moschino, who passed away in 1994, studied fine arts at Accademia di Belle Arti in Milan, originally hoping to become a painter. He worked as a fashion illustrator at Versace, designed for other Italian houses, and in 1983 launched Moschino Couture! By the late ’80s, he was staging elaborate theatrical presentations—he once interrupted a runway show and, in Dada-esque fashion, ushered the models offstage, leaving the audience in limbo.