VMAs: Designer Jeremy Scott on Miley Cyrus, the Moonman and What He’d Do to the Oscar

Fashion designer Jeremy Scott is lending a creative hand to MTV’s 2015 Video Music Awards. Friend of host Miley Cyrus and noted collaborator with the who’s-who of pop divas, Scott revamped the Moonman statue and designed the ceremony’s pre-show. Scott spoke to Variety ahead of the Aug. 30 awards about his lifelong love of music videos, his predictions for the future of music video fashion and the one accessory he’d add to the Oscar statue.

How did you get involved with this year’s awards?

MTV reached out and asked if I would be interested in being involved in the VMAs, which I love. I said, “Of course!” They proposed the idea that I redesign the Moonman. I basically lost my marbles and started crying. It was such an unexpected honor. For me, the Moonman is one of the most iconic awards, and one of the most important to me because it’s about pop culture and music and fashion and the convergence of those, and that’s exactly where I fit in, what I love, what’s inspired me my whole life. It’s been my driving force.

I understand that it’s an icon and I respect that it’s an icon and that’s why I wanted to add a layer to the iconography of it without altering the icon itself to such a degree that it’s obliviated. It’s very important to me that the icon remains iconic and resembles itself.

I got really inspired by the idea of MTV back in the old school days, when MTV was only on television, and the idea of a time when things would actually turn off and you’d have those color test bars. I thought it would be so much fun to use that iconography with the MTV logo and then to try to place it onto the sculpture itself, which is made of the colors from the bars. And of course I added my iconic wings to his feet and I gave him a big bling-bling peace necklace. In a way, it’s a little bit of a reference to “We come in peace,” and aliens and stuff. He’s on the moon, and I think peace is a good thing to promote.

You also designed the pre-show, right?

I designed the whole staging of the pre-show and the red carpet, and the step and repeat, and the whole kit and kaboodle. Essentially, the guests will step into the Jeremy Scott world and it will be a whole new experience. I’m very excited for it to be real and three-dimensional. I was already really touched by the offer to do the award itself, but to couple it with this, to make it a one-two punch was really super-flattering. I love MTV and I love the VMAs. There’s no award show like it. It really is the coolest award show, hands down. To be able to be a part of it and leave my mark on it … I’m over the moon.

I definitely wanted to make a correlation between the Moonman and the experience of the red carpet.

Were you a big music video fan growing up? Have any inspired your work?

So many! So many wonderful ones. They’ve all been so inspiring to me. I always think about the ones with fashion, of course, like George Michael’s “Freedom” and En Vogue’s “Free Your Mind” … and every Madonna video. It’s so exciting to be able to be part of that tradition in a small, humble way.

Did the fact that your pal Miley Cyrus is hosting the show impact your design choices?

Honestly, no because I came onboard before she was brought on as a host. The question might need to be asked in reverse. She knew about me doing this prior to her being reached out to, so when I heard it was her, since we’re old friends, I was so excited.

What do you think makes a good music video these days?

I would say it’s really simple. The story of the video should capture people’s imagination with the visual but at the same time, I default to fashion. From it being as simple as Miley in white briefs, a little tank and boots on a wrecking ball flying through the air. It’s about capturing the story and having an element of fashion in there. Music and fashion combined make such a lethal weapon, in my opinion.

Where do you see the future of that intersection between music and fashion going from here?

I think it keeps getting stronger and stronger. It’s just the world I live it. I hardly know another world — it’s so entrenched in me. Growing up, it was so important and I loved watching music videos and I obviously created a career where I dressed all the greatest ones. It’s really in my blood. It goes hand in glove together, that when you can really make it match seamlessly, it’s just so powerful.

Obviously the designer helps the artist, but the artist helps the designer. It’s a real symbiotic relationship. Working with Miley and Rihanna and Katy (Perry) and Madonna and Iggy and all these great ladies that I’ve been dressing and creating iconic moments with. I helped tell their story. The look is a very important element and it’s very thought-out. It becomes part of their iconography and their history too.

If the Academy asked you to redesign their awards, what would you do?

I would love to play around with Oscar. He’s very iconic from a whole different kind of awards show phenomenon. I’d have to sit and really think about it. I’d have to think about why they were coming to me and what they wanted from me.

I do think Oscar would look really cute with a blonde curly wig.

MTV’s 2015 Video Music Awards air Sunday night at 9 p.m.

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