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Disney characters turned into top models: a step too far?

minnie mouse_03_09_12US department store Barneys is set to spark controversy at Christmas with their new supermodel-inspired festive advertising campaign

The Christmas period is all about indulgence, right? Not according to the children’s department of US retail giant Barneys. Rather than enticing customers in with samples of delectable looking mince pies and festive treats, the store are hoping to smash sales targets with their new honed and toned Disney character range.

Forget the roly poly figureheads of Disney like Winnie the Pooh, Barney’s cartoon characters have been slimmed down and given a fashionable makeover. If this sounds a little too ‘Trinny and Susannah’ for your liking, you may not be far wrong.

This festive season will see Minnie, Daisy, Goofy and other legendary characters come under the thumb of fashion expertise from luxe designers like Balmain, Lanvin and Dolce & Gabbana. Titled ‘Electric Holiday’, the campaign will feature a three-dimensional electric light show and a moving art short film in the window displays of the Madison Avenue store that will see the Disney darlings transform into supermodels. And, in a mission to fully unite the world of Disney and the fashion sphere, famous designers will be magically made into Disney characters too.

With exclusive Disney-themed designer objects also available to buy in store, the collaboration is undoubtedly exciting for both sides. But, casting a dark shadow over the festivities is the ‘slimming’ side of the project. The fact Minnie Mouse now wholly embodies the phrase ‘Skinny Minnie’ has already ruffled the feathers of onlookers.

‘When we got to the moment when all Disney characters walk on the runway, there was a discussion,’ Barneys creative director Dennis Freedman explained. ‘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. When you see Goofy, Minnie and Mickey, they are runway models.’

But while the Dolce & Gabbana-wearing Daisy Duck will certainly get a nod from the fashion set, will youngsters really appreciate the luxe threads that their favourite characters have been decked out in?

The cartoon corporation is certainly set on its fashion-forward makeover though. This December will also see Harrods collaborate with Disney, as their Christmas windows will feature a selection of Disney princesses transformed by designers such as Valentino and Versace. With Christian Louboutin having already re-designed Cinderella’s slipper and many more design talents preparing to show off their newly created couture garments for Minnie Mouse at Fashion Week this September, Disney is taking leaps and bounds to become a fashion-associated brand.

So, while the Disney characters might be holding their breath in order to (metaphorically) fit into their festive get-ups, we’ll be waiting with bated breath to see just how the festive advertising campaigns go down in both America and the UK.


Picture credit: Damian Dovarganes / PA Images

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