Department stores go all out for their holiday campaigns, and this year Barneys New York is partnering with Disney for their festive extravaganza. Photos and even a short film picture iconic characters like Minnie Mouse and Daisy Duck walking the runway in designer clothing, but they're barely recognizable. In fact, their bodies have been stretched so long and thin their heads are bobbling above figures much slimmer than Barbie's.
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According to Women's Wear Daily, Barneys collaborated with Disney to take their characters into a realistic fashion world for their "Electric Holiday" campaign, set to debut at their Madison Avenue flagship store on November 14. The highlight is a film about Minnie Mouse's fantasy to attend Paris fashion week. As such, our favorite animated characters have ditched their signature garments for high-end clothing to wear down the runway. Mickey Mouse will be dressed in Balenciaga, Minnie Mouse in Lanvin, Goofy in Balmain, Daisy Duck in Dolce & Gabbana, Snow White in Nina Ricci, Cruella de Vil in Rick Owens, and Princess Tiana in Proenza Schouler. We take no issue with a wardrobe change, but from the few advanced illustrations we've seen the characters' bodies look absurd, even for cartoons.
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Barneys' creative director Dennis Freedman said their makeovers were a collaborative effort with Disney. "The animator and I sat next to each other and went over every detail of the clothes - how they're made, what material, how they would move - to get them as accurate as we possibly could," Freedman told WWD. He even brought in a model so they could study her movements and facial expressions and apply them to the illustrations. "When we got to the moment when all Disney characters walk on the runway, there was a discussion. The standard Minnie Mouse will not look so good in a Lanvin dress. There was a real moment of silence, because these characters don't change. I said, 'If we're going to make this work, we have to have a 5-foot-11 Minnie,' and they agreed."
We think Barneys and Disney have completely missed the mark. We don't want Minnie Mouse to have a sexy strut on the catwalk. The concept of using Disney characters to model clothing is playful, fun, and a great use of identifiable entities we all know and love. Which is why we want to see Minnie Mouse look like Minnie Mouse, no matter what outfit she wears. The stretched out, 5'11" version of Minnie these illustrators have created for Barneys doesn't resonate because she's not the loveable mouse from our childhoods. She's creepy, and she doesn't even have her trademark bow.
Freedman naturally stands by the revamped Disney characters, and told the trade publication their goal was to recreate "the world of the Paris fashion shows, of fashion, of people in fashion, of the rituals, all of the idiosyncrasies. The important thing to me was always that it had to be authentic. It really had to hit the nail on the head in every detail." But even as runway models these illustrations aren't authentic. The most waifish of models don't have limbs that thin and lanky. Even Barbie has more curves. We would have preferred to see that authenticity applied to bringing Disney's cherished characters, as they have looked for decades, to the runway.
This is not Disney's first foray into fashion, and their famous Mickey Mouse t-shirt design remains a garment even the coolest of the fashion set may wear from time to time. But the media giant is clearly gunning for an increased presence in the fashion industry. First up, several designers have recently tried their hand at creating real life Cinderella slipper. And secondly, a real Minnie Mouse fashion show is slated for the upcoming Spring 2013 London Fashion Week with noteworthy British designers like Giles Deacon, Michael van der Ham and Richard Nicoll celebrating the cartoon mouse. Proceeds of the Minnie-themed item will go to the British Fashion Council/Bazaar Fashion Arts Foundation.
Minnie Mouse is not the only beloved childhood character to get a high-end makeover either. Smurfette modeled designer accessories for Harper's Bazaar last year timed with the release of "The Smurfs" animated film, and Miss Piggy has been dressed by designers like Marc Jacobs, Zac Posen, Jason Wu, and Prabal Gurung. She'd never let anyone alter her figure.
Check out Women's Wear Daily for more info on the Barney's holiday campaign and watch the video below to see the Lady Gaga Workshop they created last year.
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Smurfette models accessories in Harper's Bazaar