When Jeremy Scott sent a parade of ultra-chic McDonald's employees down Moschino's runway — red-and-yellow visors, Happy Meal purses, and all — we couldn't get over how brash it was. Won't he get sued for this?
Sure, Scott's version of the Golden Arches was gently curved in a way that recalled both Moschino's own heart-shaped logo and McDowell's restaurant from Coming To America. And, the collection as a whole was a gleeful spree through '80s and '90s high-low culture that riffed on tons of other brands and ideas besides McDonald's. Versace, Chanel, Moschino's own design history, b-girls, society ladies, Hershey's chocolate, Cheetos, and SpongeBob SquarePants were all evoked in equal measure (and possibly to the equal consternation of those brands' copyright lawyers). Still, the images that stuck in our minds most are those Ronald McDonald-meets Coco Chanels. It's a powerful thing when a designer evokes one of the world's most iconic brands — and today, The Business of Fashion investigates whether Moschino, in doing so, may have infringed on McDonald's trademark.
Click through to BoF for a truly fascinating (and layperson-friendly) breakdown of the tricky world of copyright law. While we think there's a case to be made that this collection infringed on McDonald's and countless other brands' trademarks, we also think there's a place for appropriation of corporate symbols in art. Logos, ads, and other calling cards of consumer culture are foisted on the public every day, and there needs to be space for artists to explore those symbols in a critical or parodic way. Scott's gleeful re-appropriation of everything from Budweiser to Frosted Flakes is squarely in the tradition of Warhol, '90s raver culture, and hip-hop's sampling technique — it's the postmodern, cut-copy version of critical theory. And, while this defense certainly wouldn't stand up in court, it's also really fun. We admit, we're jonesing for that Moschino French fry phone case almost as much as we do for the actual fries.
What do you think? Should designers be allowed to evoke corporate logos in their work? Or, should Scott leave SpongeBob alone for good? Let us know in the comments. (The Business of Fashion)