Child’s Play: Fashion As it Happens

Fashion happens in the unlikeliest places. Designers are influenced by concepts as varied as global events to childhood memories.

In recent years, the latter has especially been a source of inspiration, as children’s favourites  Disney, Barbie and Hello Kitty have exploded out of our collective subconscious and squarely back onto catwalks. Much in the way that Miss Piggy – yes, the Muppet sow – has re-emerged as a style icon, with a couture shoot in InStyle and a guest spot on Project Runway, other familiar faces are back, only this time they’re not just for kids.

With style leaders such as Lady Gaga and Katy Perry embracing the trend (the former has been photographed in a Hello Kitty gown; the latter in a Smurfette dress) it’s now officially cute to be kitsch. Even the usually super serial Vicky B has been getting in on the act, her Victoria by Victoria Beckham range apparently having been inspired by Emily the Strange.

Whether you look on the catwalk or the high street, it is clear that, this season at least, embracing your inner child is not only optional, it’s downright fashionable. Below, I’ve picked out some of my favourite pieces, both off the runway and off the rack, and suggested some inner child-friendly locations to watch fashion as it happens.


Walt Disney’s most famous character, Mickey Mouse, was created in 1928 but, over 80 years later, the lovable rodent is as popular as ever. Currently he can be found making an appearance on Uniqlo’s recently-released collection of Disney t-shirts with some of his animated chums.

Clockwise from top: MAC’s Venomous Villains collection (2010); Melissa x Disney Villains shoe in Maleficent (2011); Disney Couture bracelet from ASOS (2012); Uniqlo Mini Mouse T-shirt (2012).

If you dream of being a Disney Princess, however, check out this gold, off-the-shoulder gown from Monique Lhullier’s AW 2011 collection. As the fairy godmother of red carpets, Lhullier knows how to design a dress that will make any girl the Belle of the ball. Just watch out for those darned pumpkins.

If You Really Want to Re-Visit Your Childhood…

Pay a visit to Disney World, Florida. It’s one place where you’re guaranteed to live happily ever after (or until your park ticket runs out, at least).


Barbie was launched in 1959  and over her lifetime the fashion doll has had over 126 different careers, making her the ultimate poster girl for the modern woman. Although, as she points out, getting her taxes in takes longer than average.

Barbie celebrated her half-centenary in 2009 and she is proof that life starts at 50. Over the last few years a host of brands have clamoured to collaborate with her, from French fashion superstore Collette to car-makers Fiat. Well, who wouldn’t wanted to be associated with that kind of fabulousness?

Clockwise from left: Tokidoki x Barbie t-shirt (2012); Barbie for Stila cosmetics (2009); Barbie Dream House ring by nOir jewellery (2011).

If you dream of raiding Barbie’s closet (she’s had Christian Louboutin and Versace design for her) this Betsey Johnson outfit in pink (what else?) from Betsey’s SS 2012 collection  is a good place to start (bottom right). For true Barbie glamour, team with tiara, à la Sparkle Lights Princess Barbie (bottom left).

If You Really Want to Re-Visit Your Childhood…

Now you have your Barbie dress, head to the Dream House for a Barbie makeover. Improbably located in Buenos Aires, Arengtina, Casa Barbie boasts a Barbie shop, beauty parlour, tea room and play area. There’s even a Barbie car waiting outside to whisk you to your next destination. Ken doll not included.

Hello Kitty

Created in 1974, Hello Kitty is the kitschy cat who brought the concept of “kawaii” to the West.

While most adults can’t stand her, Hello Kitty has infiltrated the mass market (apparently there are 22,000 Hello Kitty products available) collaborating with respected brands such as Swarovski and MAC, who think she’s the cat’s pyjamas. In 2011, Liberty’s even created a range of eight Liberty prints featuring the fantastic feline.Clockwise from left: Forever 21’s Hello Kitty collection (2011); Hello Kitty’s make-up range for Sephora (2012); Hello Kitty Vans (2011).

Although few would care to admit it,  Hello Kitty’s influence can even be seen on the catwalk (no pun intended). In 2009 Miss K turned 35 and the SS 2010 collections were flooded with her favourite accessory: the off-centre head bow. From Diane von Furstenberg to Marc by Marc Jacobs (below), Hello Kitty made it OK for girls over the age of 6 to rock the bow again.

If You Really Want to Re-Visit Your Childhood…

For die-hard Hello Kitty fans, the only place to go is Hello Kitty land. Seriously. Sanrio Puroland, as it’s officially known, is located in Tokyo (naturally) and is home to all things Hello Kitty. Including, er, Hello Kitty’s home.

 Which childhood character has most influenced your style?

This entry was published on February 7, 2012 at 11:57 pm. It’s filed under Collaboration, Disney, Fashion, GeekyGirl, GirlyGirl, Hello Kitty and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

One thought on “Child’s Play: Fashion As it Happens

  1. Pingback: Sister Act: Barbie Modelling for Sibling at London Fashion Week « Worrier Princess

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