Today, as I blow out the candles to another year, I find that my phobia of big numbers rising exponentially — thank goodness I’m not a math geek! Though I do look quite young, increasing numbers outside of a bank account are just no good. Waist size and cholesterol, cavities and parking tickets, oh my! Some things are just best to maintain at lower levels. Like fashion, I am becoming more youth obsessed and find myself retreating to Hulu Plus to watch “My So Called Life” and Saturday morning cartoons just to hold onto bits of my childhood. But even if I have graduated to watching “Homeland,” (Claire Danes’ Carrie Mathison is soooo cray-cray good), I believe that fashion still sees her as Angela Chase. Fashion has always had a fascination with youth, from models to bloggers (tweeting Tavi Gevinson), and it has become quite obvious with all the kindergarten themed apparel and accessories out on the Island of Misfit Toys.
For me the trend began during the Fall/Winter 2012-13 runway shows of Comme des Garçon and Jeremy Scott. Rei Kawakubo sent what looked just like paper dolls down the runway, while Mr. Scott’s models paraded around in a collection inspired by Bart Simpson meets Rainbow Brite and My Little Pony. Well, I did love “The Simpsons,” and I remember Rainbow Brite cereal tasting a lot like Fuity Pebbles. Since I was always running and jumping in the house, my mom nicknamed me “Pony” until I was about six-years-old. Perhaps I too belonged on the Island of Misfit Toys; a little boy called Pony is equivalent to a Charlie in the Box or a Spotted Elephant.
In my mind, the Barney’s ‘Electric Holiday’ campaign engraved that toys are not only for tots, they’re also for grown-ups. In the video, editors and fashionistas effortlessly assimilate into the world of cartoons. It is hard to believe that some of them are actual people (tweeting Anna Dello Russo.) In fact, Alber Elbaz who is also featured in the campaign is once again asked to design a new Lanvin dress for Minnie Mouse to wear to Disneyland Paris’ 20th Anniversary. WWD reports that Mickey himself contacted Alber. Who could say no to the Big Cheese?
Lanvin is not the only French house that has a play date with toys. Chanel has reimagined hula-hoops and Legos as clutches and minaudières. These accessories really defy convention, and since toys are manufactured to ignite a child’s imagination, Chanel’s by-products of childhood are successful examples of the trend. In fact, the hula-hoop bag playfully made its street style debut during the recent NYFW. While we’re still on the subject of NYFW, I find it funny that prior to the shows at Lincoln Center, the fashionistas could be mistaken for misfit toys, or rather clowns, by a passerby instead of editors or bloggers. Fact: the Big Apple Circus is in the exact location as Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. BryanBoy better start practicing his trapeze act.
In some cases, fashion designers produce actual toys like a chess set (Prada) or a teddy bear (Alexander Wang), or they can be influenced by the chess set (Louis Vuitton checkerboard print bag) and teddy bear (Jeremy Scott Sneakers.) On the other hand, designers like The Blonds brought an iconic toy to life when they styled their models to look like Barbie for their SS13 collection. My favorite fashion/toy/cartoon fusion is the Pokemon x Fashion Tumblr. Francis Phommisai seamlessly integrates Pokemon characters into fashion editorials. I wonder if Pikachu is signed with IMG models.
After the candles have been put out of their misery, I wish for eternal youth even though I know it is as unlikely as me carrying the hula-hoop bag around the city. So as fashion holds onto the ankles of its childhood, I hold onto the fullness of my hair and the tightness of my skin before gravity kicks in and I am shipped off to the Island of Misfit Toys. After all, Forever 21 will only and forever be just a store.