How Moschino created a dress that's on fire

Moschino AW16 campaign
Moschino AW16 campaign

Model Anna Cleveland was the talk of the Moschino AW16 show, as creative director Jeremy Scott sent her down the runway in a singed dress that literally smoked.

Fast forward to the unveiling of the Milan fashion house’s autumn campaign and Cleveland, 27, appears in the same burning dress. So how did Scott pull off such a fiery campaign without, well, maiming his model? 

Anna Ewers on the Moschino runway

“The burnt effect on the fabrics are created with a mix of laser-cutting and airbrush art work,” Scott told The Telegraph - busting the idea that fire extinguishers were on hand backstage. “To create the element of theatre, the dresses, all made from silk, lace and wool, had tiny smoke machines built into them so that they could emit smoke and give the sensation of smouldering!” 

The scorching dress style is rooted in 1897’s Bonfire of the Vanities, which was the central premise of Scott’s AW16 line. The event in Italy saw “all the riches and things that were seen as vain - silk dresses, make-up, jewellery, paintings, musical instruments, written manuscripts - burnt on one dark night."

Why was Anna Cleveland picked to represent Scott's artistic interpretation of this attack on Renaissance ideology and wealth? “Anna is more than a model, she is a muse,” says Scott. “I knew that she had to have one of these dresses as she would bring life to it, and push it to another realm.”

Scott wasn’t wrong. Her sashay down the catwalk, a space crumbled with smashed-up chandeliers, crushed instruments and blitzed artwork, looks small fry compared to the campaign. Alongside Stella Tennant, Cleveland is captured bashing cars with a sledgehammer, before escaping the scene in a flurry of flames.

Photographed by Steven Meisel, with hair and make-up by Guido Palau and Pat McGrath, respectively, the imagery shows that when it comes to playing with fire, Scott only enlists the big guns.