Among the popular children's magazines published in Italy in the '80s there was also Barbie Magazine, a mix of news, activities, fashion shoots, and a photo story in which Barbie ended up in ridiculously improbable situations involving kidnappings, trips to space and mysterious adventures among the pyramids in Egypt. In one of these stories Barbie went shopping for Christmas and passed in front of a series of designer's shops - Valantino, Emporio Ermani and Farrè - fake names modelled on real ones to establish a rather tacky yet latent connection with fashion while avoiding being sued for copyright infringement.
Throughout the years this connection was strengthened by ensuring that designers created dresses for Barbie or released limited editions of the popular doll. Up until Moschino showed its collection at Milan Fashion Week, the latest collaboration was the one with Karl Lagerfeld who is set to release at the end of the month a Barbie Lagerfeld (obviously dressed like him...View this photo).
Creative director Jeremy Scott designed indeed an entire Barbie-themed collection for the Spring/Summer 2015 season.
The Barbie mood pervaded everything: people sitting in the front row were greeted by a Barbie Moschino dressed in a miniaturised version of the first look that appeared on the runway (cropped leather jacket and skirt in hot pink) and the show featured a series of happy Barbie replicants (Roller Skating Barbie, Work Out Barbie...) in voluminous platinum blond wigs, pink lipstick and pink mules.
Some of them sported pink sweats, shirts and rucksacks with a Moschino logo recreating the classic Barbie logo, then there were miniskirt suits à la Chanel with prints of paper dolls or in ironic terrycloth; golden raincoats and golden bustiers with matching trousers, and a series of showpieces in bright and vivid colours. In a way, this was the perfect show to complement Scott's McDonald's-red-and-yellow uniforms for the Autumn season.
The first problem was the striking resemblance that some of the pieces showed with specific Barbie dolls or Barbie garments and accessories: pink naturally prevails in the doll's wardrobe and this was a very "Think Pink" collection, but the annoying thing was the perfect correspondence between certain Barbie dolls or clothes with these designs.
The golden shade of some of the designs were lifted from Barbie Golden Dream, though one golden trench coat was the version for grown up women of a garment from the Barbie Fashion Avenue collection; the colour combinations of the bikinis and swimwear was reminiscent of My First Barbie circa 1980; two of the final showpieces were remixed versions of the dress donned by Barbie Dream Date, an elaborate costume with a long ruffle element that you could use to create different designs (the nearest thing Mattel created to a Capucci sculpted dress).
Which leads us to one question (still leaving aside the body size/body image debate): can you adapt a doll's wardrobe for a real woman? Even though, we saw that happening in Rodarte's S/S 2012 collection (see Van Gogh dress - Barbie Van Gogh View this photo), the simple answer is no, because usually it works the other way round and, Scott may not be aware that one of the highlights of having a Barbie doll is not idolising her and her clothes, but making clothes for her with scraps of fabrics and other assorted crazy materials.
The second problem was that Jeremy Scott didn't create anything new here: his paper doll print shirts (already available online as part of a 28-piece capsule collection comprising T-shirts, sweaters, bags and headbands) are derived from a paper doll (male version) graphic shirt he did for Adidas a while back.
In the past he also did a Barbie collection that featured pink tops and skirts with the Barbie logo that show striking resemblances wuth the new Moschino pieces.
Finally there is also another connection with Moschino and Barbie: in 2009 Italian furniture store, Kartell dedicated its windows during Milan Design Week to Barbie's anniversary (and to its own anniversary) recreating the doll's house layout in store, dressing the dummies in Moschino.
Taking these things into consideration proves that, rather than being about thinking pink à la Funny Face or about pink being "the only true rock'n'roll colour" as Paul Simonon may state, this collection is about giving the consumers the same things while remixing them just a bit for a new and younger audience. So think lazy rather than think pink it.
For some reasons editors are happy and enthusiastic about it, they say that accessories will sell quickly (exactly, accessories not clothes; by the way, a little note about the inflatable bags: you can still find those "pool-float inspired" bags that were popular two decades ago at little shops in Italian seaside resorts for 5-10 euros...) and enthuse about the irreverent American genius who is currently heading Moschino. And if you don't join them you are a sad person who never has fun and feels the joy (the joy of selling cheap and lazy crap to consumers...).
Bets are open on how soon we will see (already during Paris Fashion Week?) Anna Dello Russo holding an iPhone-cover-cum-beauty mirror (sold as the ultimate item to look at yourself before taking a selfie, this rather cringy object looks straight out of the case of Barbie Beauty Secrets...) outside a fashion show.
Yet while rambling on eBay for vintage Barbie dresses to copy or maybe studying the Mattel archives, Scott forgot to realise that Barbie also had reversible clothes, real leather clothes and furs, so she had more variation and luxury in her wardrobe than could be seen in this collection, apart from the fact that she also led a multiple life that allowed her to be a doctor, a pilot and astronaut and not just a plastic woman lounging near a pool.
So, how to react to all this trash? Well, you can always embrace it, loosen up and have fun, as editors suggest you do, because, after all, you have found the outfits to go to your next Barbie Cosplay convention. Mind you, the brave woman who went dressed as Zombie Barbie at the latest Phoenix Comicon surely made more efforts than Scott, so you may not be that successful even as a cosplayer.
All the other women who don't want to go around dressed like My First Barbie circa 1980, will obviously be considered fun spoilers who don't want to bring joy into fashion, but may be able to retain their dignity.
PS We can't wait for Scott to sit again at the computer and ramble through Ken's disastrous wardrobe for Moschino's menswear collection, or maybe move from Gem and The Holograms for his next womenswear collection.
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