Taking the Mickey: why is fashion obsessed with Disney?

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Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Taking the Mickey: why is fashion obsessed with Disney?” was written by Priya Elan, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 28th June 2016 10.54 UTC

In February of this year, the A-Listers looked in a left-field direction for their fashion inspiration: Walt Disney. Dresses worn by Brie Larson, Saoirse Ronan and Alicia Vikander all channelled Disney cartoons: Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid and Cinderella.

As it turned out, these references were prescient. In the following months, fashion embraced Disney in a big way. In April, Kenzo announced its Jungle Book-inspired line, featuring typically brightly rendered close-ups of Shere Khan. While in Milan, Gucci’s Alessandro Michele debuted a short-sleeved sweater top in geek chic pastels featuring Donald Duck repeated in Warhol, screen-print style.

Gucci does Daffy at Milano Moda Uomo Men’s Fashion Week.
Gucci does Daffy at Milano Moda Uomo men’s fashion week. Photograph: WWD/Rex/Shutterstock

Also incoming is Bathing Ape’s continued collaboration with Disney in the form of camo-patterned Mickey Mouse T-shirt prints and Coach’s leatherised Mickey handbags and jackets. “Everything we do starts with our audiences, and we’re seeing huge demand in the fashion space from fans of all ages,” Disney’s vice-president of product development Heather Laing-Obstbaum told the LA Times.

Bathing Ape does camo Mickey.
Bathing Ape does camo Mickey. Photograph: A Bathing Ape & Disney

But where does this demand come from? While it’s true that our obsession with repurposing elements from our childhood is ever evident; from our love affair with vintage clothes and Hollywood’s obsession with remakes to gif-filled listicles. But the line between adult infantilisation and dreamy nostalgia is a fine one. It’s an issue that swirls around many of our personal fashion decisions (“Am I too old for pigtails?”, “Should I stop wearing a leather jacket now I’m 40?”). When fashion labels embrace this imagery, it legitimises the indulgence of our childish side, but does it make it cool? When Kate Moss or Azealia Banks in the 212 video wore vintage Mickey Mouse apparel it definitely did, arguably because the vintage element gave the image post-modern nous. In a similar way, Gucci’s throwback sweater succeeds because it is tongue-in-cheek, funny and doesn’t attempt to contemporise a symbol that has become part of the pop-culture furniture.

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