By lucky coincidence, this morning the Times Literary Supplement in London published a review by Anna Katharina Schaffner of Twee, a book by Marc Spitz. (Not the swimmer Marc Spitz; a different one.) That was lucky because, as Schaffner considered Spitz’s assertion that “twee,” the artisanal-everything, retro-anything, cute-curating lifestyle that’s emerged over the past decade, is this generation’s answer to punk, she essentially deconstructed today’s Jeremy Scott collection in advance. “Twee,” she wrote, “is a symptom of profound cultural exhaustion, a pop-cultural response to the death of grand narratives and radical politics: too weary to fight the corporate capitalist machine, the twee instead create hyper-stylized alternative worlds in which kittens play, ukuleles sound, and childhood is eternal.”
Without Schaffner’s guidance, it might have been tempting to dismiss Scott’s show as glib—a romp through the baby-doll dress and wackadoo cartoon character territory of Meadham Kirchhoff, but drained of that brand’s anger and subversive energy. But the heaping helpings of literally infantile cuteness on the Scott runway didn’t really rub you that way. There was a certain ludic joy to the proceedings, as there always is with Scott, but his nursery rhyme-inspired clothes for grown-up girls and boys were so over-the-top adorable that the collection begged to be read as a critique. You want cuuuuuute? You want totes adorbs? Scott seemed to be saying. Well how about this… It was the sartorial equivalent of having a frosted gluten-free cupcake smashed in your face.
It was also Scott’s best collection in ages. Not just because of its content, but because of its execution. These clothes were immaculate. The printed silk baby dolls were expertly cut, and Scott’s innovations with patent leather were mind-bogglingly original. The material was printed in bright checks and stripes or with cartoon animal patterns fit for crib blankets, then buffed to a mirror shine and then, in some cases, quilted. The results were rather dazzling, particularly in a striped, ruffled crop top and matching abbreviated A-line skirt, and a short coat in a pastel blanket print. Elsewhere, Scott made equally good use of multicolor patchwork leather—a pair of men’s jeans in the leather seemed credible, in a way that Scott’s men’s clothes frequently do not. (Outside of a club context, at any rate.) Further news on the fabric front: the show-closing dresses in sculpted canvas, loosely inspired by the work of Claes Oldenburg and painted on by artist Rosson Crow. These were intended as showpieces, to be sure, but they underlined the fact that Scott has been giving rigorous thought to the possibilities of textiles.
The most clever thing here, though, was the way Scott wove a dark, trippy note through the collection. He was inspired by nursery rhymes and dolls, he said after the show, but also by psychedelia like those ’70s-era black light posters. The hallucinogenic tone gave this seemingly weightless outing its sense of gravity. Scott’s kids this season were twee as fuck, for sure. But they seemed not a little haunted, too.