The Vagenda

Moschino’s Barbie Dream – Sexist or Chic?

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When Meadham Kirchhoff sent models down the catwalk wearing ‘bloody’ tampons for earrings at the London fashion week recently, I didn’t think the latest shows could boggle my mind further. I mean, trust the fashion world to smash all acceptable concepts of what recycling entails and hang it from someone’s ear.

But then Moschino’s show at Milan happened and the mind boggling took on new dimensions. Not just because it set off my sexism radar, but because once my initial outrage settled down, I thought maybe I should turn the alert level down a tad.

With a catwalk dominated by long blonde wigs, shockingly pink clothes and a rather infamous Aqua song blaring in the background, Moschino’s theme was brazenly Barbie. That’s right ladybros: next spring and summer Moschino’s creative director Jeremy Scott thinks we should be aspiring to look like a little girl’s doll, and a hideously sexist one at that. The show featured “Princess Barbie”, “Businesswoman Barbie” and what appeared to be “Bondage Barbie” (I really, really hope that’s not a real doll). Roller-skating Barbie even made her way onto the catwalk (and probably had the most comfortable footwear in that room, frankly.) And to really hit home the theme, all of the show’s attendees were apparently treated to a Barbie doll of their own to take away.

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For me, all of this encapsulated much of what is sexist about the fashion industry and society’s view of women, because of course the two have links. It’s the notion that women should be clothes horses with unrealistic body proportions in order to be admired, desired, not to mention infantilised. Their role is to be seen and not heard. Essentially, women are dolls to be dressed or undressed as their owner pleases, and Moschino has taken this to its logical conclusion by rendering its catwalk models as close to dolls as is physically possible without major surgery.

Furthermore, Scott’s comment on his Barbie idea to just hits home how out of touch his show is with feminism. “Like every girl and gay boy, I loved Barbie. It’s hard not to; she’s practically perfect. She’s a good big sister, she’s had every job in the world, worn every outfit.”

Right, Jeremy, so I need to be Barbie to be perfect, essentially? I’m not plastic or blonde and I don’t have lots of pastel accessories so that could be a problem. Also where was astronaut or computer engineer Barbie on your catwalk? Or would those roles not have allowed desirably feminine enough outfits?

Like I said, I was seeing red (or in this case pink). But before I started blurting my outrage to the social media world, I sat back and had a rethink.

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Sure, Moschino’s show was terrible for the above reasons, but there were hundreds of shows at fashion week, and not all of their designers were sending models out who were dressed like the objects of Hugh Hefner’s darkest wet dreams. If you briefly put aside the continuing controversy of painfully thin models (and I definitely don’t think this is an issue to be brushed aside – Tom Ford’s show was a particularly alarming example) and just look at the clothes and their messages – there was a praiseworthy range of choice at the spring/summer 15 shows for a feminist fashion-lover.  I take enormous heart from that.

There was androgynous office wear at Jil Sander, long, floaty dresses in a myriad of pastel hues at Missoni, and quirky prints and sculptural cuts at Fendi, to name just a few.  And yes, there are women out there who would probably really love to wear some of the outfits modelled by the models who strutted down Moschino’s catwalk. In fact, I’d applaud anyone with the guts to walk around town in a long blue sequin dress and a big pink feather boa. But personally, I’d give it a miss. Moschino may not agree, but I think it’s time to grow up.

- Ploy Radford

4 thoughts on “Moschino’s Barbie Dream – Sexist or Chic?

  1. Look step back a bit if you don’t enjoy a piece of art fair enough, critique it but don’t go over the top and turn this into a “woe betide me AND the rest of the female gender”. Painfully thin? Really? These women look beautiful and they look like a healthy weight to me, how they achieved their current weight is another matter. I think there is nothing wrong with Jeremy Scott as a diverse fun pop art fashion designer. There is nothing wrong with using other mediums as inspiration, be it a doll, TV show or music etc.
    This is personally my wet dream to go out dressed in a juvenile “Look at me” custard yellow frock and a full outfit of Barbie pink PVC. If a guy or girl thinks I’m all the more attractive that’s fine too. What you’ve failed to remember is that most of Jeremy Scott’s fashion designs are so wacky and supposed to be fun. No boring, tight arsed man pleaser is gonna be caught dead in his designs anyhow .

    Sister you’re deluded, I think you need to let your hair down and dance in the rain, eat more cheese, make love, I dunno something.

    • I agree with what you said, EXCEPT the ‘healthy weight’ part. The models are in no way healthy looking, they are in fact painfully thin, and the real problem here is not the Barbie inspiration, I think, but the designers’ fantasy of sick, starving, weak women as an ideal of beauty. This applies to almost all fashion nowadays, and that’s why this article seems to me to be pointing in a wrong direction. I think Barbie is not the real misogynist here, the fashion industry is.

  2. I think we need to be careful about how we label these models.

    If you think they look “painfully thin” that is totally acceptable, as your view point it subjective.

    Although the fashion industry is not known for celebrating healthy women of all shapes and sadly more so for promoting pressure to be unnaturally thin, to attack these women for the way they look is rather harsh. (“…sick, starving, weak women.”)

    I have for most of my life been very tall and naturally thin and have constantly had to convince others that I do eat and there is nothing wrong with me, and convince myself that I am perfectly fine just the way I am.

    Step back a little on the judging.

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