You look like a Barbie and it’s (not) bad

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Elie Saab spring/summer 2017. Source: vidapress

Picture a scene: you see a woman opening the doors of a café with one assured gesture, transmitting the sense of excessive self-confidence even from the distance. She winks her eye flirtatiously to a waiter and chooses the sunniest table, where the sunrays could fall on her flawless face. Then asks for a cup of tea or coffee and takes out a mini mirror from her bag just to check how her glittery lips are looking (if you had to choose the most attiring detail of her outfit, it would definitely be these lips). Her hair is tied in two whimsical braids and her dress immediately grabs the eye because of its billowing silhouette and soft pink color. The mini bag is accessorized with several fluffy charms. Of course, high heels marked with colorful stripes are not any less impressive. And just in case you thought I was describing a little girl – no, she’s not twelve or thirteen years old. She’s an adult. It’s possible that if you saw a woman dressed from head to toes in tiger prints, you’d be more willing to label her “stylish” than this strange example. However, there’s one subtle nuance. This woman was stylish enough to walk down Fendi runway. Or to be more precise, legendary fashion house created this woman themselves and suggested that we follow her example.

Milan: Fendi RTW Spring Summer 2017
Fendi spring/summer 2017. Source: vidapress

This notion of “Barbie image” has exclusively negative associations. Things that pop into our heads as soon as we hear these two words usually are these: Excess of pink, inappropriately short clothes, glittery fabrics, long nails, peroxide hair, a small puppy in a handbag… In terms of food, it’s an overdose of sugar. All of it sounds so sweet you might even throw up. Not a single woman who considers herself stylish or elegant will ever allow herself look “like a Barbie”, because it’s an obvious sign of a poor taste, sometimes even a symbol of vulgarity. Nonetheless, every season designers more or less play with this theme and challenge themselves in this tight rope walk between sweet cuteness and looking “cheap”. For this spring/summer, however, the creators wrapped this “plastic” Barbie style in subtle, fairytale-worthy layers. It’s quite a new way to approach this image. The afore-mentioned Fendi fashion house presented romantic and light ensembles together with eye-popping accessories, but the result looks probably quite better than you imagined while reading the introduction.

At Moschino, the paper-doll parade reigned supreme: Jeremy Scott created ironic dresses which looked as if taken out from coloring books, where you can just cut the clothes you want and stick on a doll. At Rodarte, the it-dress of the season was definitely the glitzing red one with pompous shoulders. All of these examples characterize the trend that I’ve already evoked for several times in my articles. The so-called maximalism insists that more is more and more is definitely better. And we’re talking about the daily wardrobe here, so when an occassion to dress up comes, the formula “less is more” is practically forgotten. That’s why clothes are ornated with cute, sometimes even infantile motives of butterflies, flower blooms, and especially loads of glitter or other glistening details. They’re everywhere – not only on clothes, but also on handbags, shoes and… lips. This trend is entering the beauty sphere so that it could challenge the usual notions of what is considered to be beautiful and elegant. Recently, the beauty editor of ELLE UK Sophie Beresiner made an experiment and spent an evening with glitzy lips. The results were astonishing: Men and even women ran after her to tell compliments. Beauty specialists encourage us not to be afraid to adorn eyelids, cheeks or even ears with glitters. Everything depends from the effect you want to create.

Rodarte show, Backstage, Spring Summer 2017, New York Fashion Week, USA - 13 Sep 2016
Rodarte spring/summer 2017 backstage. Source: vidapress

This style encompasses all the other smaller trends that have been at the zeitgeist for some seasons, such as glitzy tiaras, pink color, extravagant accessories. It’s not easy to explain this seemingly irrational penchant for princess clothes, but it’s evident that it’s not only a response to a destabilizing current political, social and economical situation, but also to feminist discussions concerning the way a strong modern woman looks. One of the examples is the slogan T-Shirt designed by Maria Grazia Chiuri for her debut at Dior: “We should all be feminists”. Model with this T-Shirt also wore a romantic tulle maxi skirt.

Christian Dior show, Backstage, Spring Summer 2017, Paris Fashion Week, France - 30 Sep 2016
Dior spring/summer 2017 backstage. Source: vidapress

Woman’s strength can’t be defined by clear and rigid rules; She doesn’t need to wear masculine clothes to look powerful. It seems to be the main message that the designers are sending. They also insist that tenderness, delicacy, softness which is sometimes identified as infantile “Barbie style” doesn’t translate weakness, so they suggest that women start following their instincts and inner wishes without contemplating too much about stereotypes associated with certain styles. Even if a childhood dream to dress like a princess arises, you don’t need to wait for your wedding or any other very special occasion to dress like that. Of course, it doesn’t mean that you have to recreate sweet style from head to toes – sometimes all you need are small details to sprinkle on your daily uniform to make it more cheerful. Talking about other characteristics of “plastic Barbie style”, evoked in the beginning of the article… Don’t worry. Being “plastic” still doesn’t have anything in common with good taste, no matter how contradictory this notion can be.

Lithuanian readers can find this article in here.

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