Rule Breakers

Art | Apr 2016 | BY Maxwell Williams

“He really thinks like an artist,” Rosson Crow says over the phone from her studio in Hollywood. “He gets it.” The Los Angeles-based painter is talking about Jeremy Scott. And it’s true: Scott is a fashion designer for whom rules about fashion don’t seem to apply, whether it’s the pop culture-splashed prints of his own line, the enigmatic high fashion of Moschino—where he’s the creative director—or his work with Adidas, Melissa Shoes and Longchamp. Crow’s work is splashy in a different way, using similarly bright hues to create impressionistic masterpieces that gauzily reconstruct what she refers to as “American historical traumas” like Martin Luther King, Jr.’s funeral or John F. Kennedy’s assassination.

Kindred color spirits notwithstanding, Crow and Scott didn’t actually connect until 2010, when Scott popped by an exhibition of Crow’s paintings at Deitch Projects in New York at the behest of their mutual friend Suzanne Geiss, who was a director there at the time. Crow, who describes the meeting as an “instant click,” was making plans to move to L.A., where Scott is based. She gave him a call when she landed and to her surprise, he asked if she would join him on a road trip.

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Crow in her studio against one of her “idea walls,” covered in collages and found ephemera. Portrait by Jeff Vespa

“He randomly suggested that we take a trip to Las Vegas,” she says, laughing. “It was really spur of the moment. Since then, we’ve been really good friends. It was the anti-traditional Las Vegas experience. We stayed with his friends and I don’t think we went on the Strip at all. We went to antique malls and thrift stores.”

Antiquing and thrifting are key to their relationship, forming a bridge between her invested curiosity about history and his eternal love of kitsch and kink. “We both love antiques,” Scott confirms, “so we often are digging for treasures at flea markets together. We are both solid through-and-through Americans with a sensibility and humor about Americana that we both embrace and hold dear.”

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A still from Crow’s Madame Psychosis Holds a Séance

Eventually, their mutual interests led them to collaborate, initially on Scott’s Fall 2015 ready-to-wear show. Crow slathered thick enamel paint on the last three dresses, including Gigi Hadid’s polka dot-painted baby-doll look that closed out the show. “I love how it has the feeling of being like a 3-D paper doll dress,” says Scott, who isn’t afraid to reach out to artists for collaborations—recently he’s worked with Kenny Scharf and Gilbert & George. “The inspiration was, What if a little girl had painted her doll’s clothes? I feel like Rosson captured it completely, bringing my inspiration to life. And Gigi looks like a doll to me, so she was the perfect girl for that look—100 percent!”

For Crow, who has also leant her paintings for Zac Posen dresses, working on fashion gets her out of her comfort zone and gives her new perspective. “I love to be able to do things that get my work to have a different life than it normally would and be seen by different people,” she says. “To have it on a dress in a fashion show is a totally different experience from a painting. But they definitely felt like sculptures to me, or art pieces in some sense. I loved that experience of seeing it come together in a totally fresh way for my work.”

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A still from Crow’s Madame Psychosis Holds a Séance

Scott returned the favor, so to speak, by helping Crow design costumes for her first short film, Madame Psychosis Holds a Séance, about a woman who obsesses over the JFK assassination. The film debuted at Honor Fraser last November, and the main character, played by film star Kelly Lynch, wears several canvas dresses that Scott designed and Crow transferred her paintings onto. “He was really enthusiastic about it,” says Crow. “I told him the plot, we talked about the character and who she was, the time period she’s obsessed with, so she’d still be wearing these clothes that would reflect that era. It really built off the character.”

But for Scott, the real pleasure of working on the project was being able to collaborate with Crow. “My favorite part of it was working with my best friend,” he says. “She makes me laugh, and when I experience something that makes me wanna cry, she has a wonderful sincerity that wraps around me like a warm blanket to calm me.”

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