Updated: Jun 18, 2022
Bold and quirky toy-esque fashion is being lustily lapped up by fashionistas across the world. Would you interested in joining this play, asks P S Bhavana
Advice # 1: For starts, the danger when you flaunt one of these off-beat or extreme fashion stories is; you getting tagged with the as-bombastic-as-Lady Gaga label (think one of her Kermit the Frog or Hello Kitty ensembles) or getting that famous eye-rolls, tsk-tsk looks and whispers when in a crowd. But then again, if you pull off even a single one with élan, you might be the next big fashion thing in your social circles. So, take your pick, tread this ground a tad carefully, and dig in.
Let us start raving about toy fashion in the past that was a lot about injecting accessorisation or keepsakes with elements of utility—from Swatch’s Kidrobot designs, Millennium Falcon Star Wars cufflinks, Takara Tomy’s Transformers-fitted cap, to stuffed toy accompaniments with perfumes (e.g. Bambolina teamed with Marni’s spicy take). In the same league, a few boasted a sense of the dreamy like the Facets (laser-cut wooden) Jewelry collection by Mr.Nico (by a team of two graphic designers, one architect, a copywriter and a fashion designer) that highlighted 3D geometric forms like Origami and Tangram, or the likes of the Little Donkey copper-finish brooch by St.Ives Cornwall-based Sharon McSwiney. There are a multitude of others in this rung, talking of which can hog too much space here.
So, we move to discussing the obvious bigwig—Danish-made toy brand Lego as an avant-garde inspiration. So much so that it made it to the cover of Vogue Russia in 2008 via an eye-popping Lego neckpiece! These blocks jumped into the fashion sphere by 2007 thanks to a handful of leading fashion creators. They wove in the whimsical and fun factor with fashion. Plastic-y but haute forms with outrageous pricing popped out— like Balenciaga By Nicolas Ghesquiere footwear and Chanel Lego Spring 2013 clutch—that made heads turn. Then Marc Jacobs, Joy Han, Brian Reyes and Jean-Charles de Castelbajac followed suit. Soon Toyboy Designs, a Johannesburg-based firm by designer Hendrik Smit and business partner Reynier Krause (Krause interior design) got inspired by these kiddo blocks yet again and worked on a range of natty and spectacular stuff, which was meant to be worn as statement pieces. Other names like aRKayy displayed Lego-touched pieces like a heart necklace, too, but through communal retail forum Etsy. You can still find a huge Lego-inspired bunch online put up by myriad names (we like the Agabag Lego purse—geometric and brilliant).
Apart from accessories, you have clothes that have been toy-oriented and are still going strong. Meadham Kirchhoff’s doll-ish collections are always fun, girlie and boyish, and colourful yet wearable. Of late, Hong Kong-based designer Bossini’s Toy Story line of clothes is a rage. Back home, Satya Paul tied-up with Disney to launch the ‘Disney Mono Pop by Satya Paul’ collection of monotone-with-sepia pop saris, tunics, scarves, stoles, ties and accessories.
Making Barbie-inspired clothes (for instance by David Dixon or Patricia Field), and even eccentric headdresses (by Piers Atkinson or Mindplay: Bricks on Me by Elroy Klee) and playful cosmetics (MAC Barbie line of make-up or Bubble Bath Eyelash jewellery) for adults has been invariably big on the scene, too. Recently, Spring 2015 (New York and Milan fashion weeks) is also witnessing a return of the Barbie with a bang. Jeremy Scott of Moschino sent out techno-pop dolls to the ramp with bubblegum-pink lips and colourful hair extensions, Matthew Williamson and Diane Von Furstenberg made her quintessential style a lot more woman-ly and elegant with prints and silk, and The Blonds went all-out with long braids and overtly wild looks.