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Cartoon CultureDisneyFashion

Mouse Couture: The Fashion Industry’s Mickey and Minnie Obsession

The fashion sphere can’t seem to get enough of Mickey and Minnie these days, and not just the expected corporate collabs like OPI cosmetics or Barney’s Electric Holiday, but actual couture showstoppers stomping the runways in fashion capitals and captured in the pages of high fashion editorials (like the above Peter Phillips mask for 2005 US Vogue). And even after having revisiting the subject a dozen times over the last five years, designers are still finding new inspiration to cut and sew a pair of mouse ears into their fashion stories.

Marcel Gerlan’s spring 2013 collection “Gerl Power” for Gerlan Jeans featured a girlie assortment of bow-veralls, polka dots and Minnie-maxi skirts as means of alleged expression of feminism for the current generation of young women.

Fashion photographer Prasad Naik’s severe and somewhat abstract analysis of the subject was the star in his 2012 fashion editorial.

Iceberg’s spring/summer 2010 collection
brought impractical play suits and gimmicky mouse eared shoulders to Milan fashion week in 2009.

And Jeremy Scott, who arguably began this specific cartoon-y trend with his fall 2009 ready-to-wear collection showcased head-to-toe tributes to the cartoon icon, including his now famous Mickey Mouse sneakers for Adidas.

  • Shazbot

    Ehhh….I’ll stick with my Mickey Mouse t-shirts, thanks.

  • For me personally, Mickey Mouse is an inspiration. In a simplified way he represents animation to me. So to see that other artists are inspired by Mickey, Minnie and other Disney characters is exciting. I can imagine that artists both admire and loathe Disney characters and they may see them as symbols of pop culture, of mass consumerism, of success and romance, of nostalgia. These characters incite emotions for sure.

    Fashion is another big inspiration to me. The designs that are sent down the catwalks are pure fantasy. These clothes won’t be coming to a Wal-Mart near you. The couture designer creates living art – something to be worn and experienced in real time. That the patterns, shapes and colors of Mickey and Minnie are taken and blown up and splashed onto wearable works of art is thrilling.

    I imagine that Marcel Gerlan was very inspired by Minnie Mouse and wanted to attach a theme to that for it to be presentable and consistent. The theme “Gerl Power” could have come before or after being inspired by Minnie. One of the reasons that these fashions may be taken as an expression of feminism is that they challenge the typical “feminine silhouette”. They are playful and bold fashions, but the maxi skirts and “bow-veralls” are not cinched waists, A-line skirts or low cut and tight fitting tops. They are rejecting fashions designed to be attractive to the male gaze. And everything about these fashions suggests fun from the theme to the individual pieces to the colours and patterns to the very spelling of the theme.

    Runway fashion are not meant to be practical or comfortable any more than any other art form is. It’s not meant to follow any rules. A designer certainly could follow rules and make safe and mass-consumable designs, but the designers who created these works are regurgitating their emotions and reactions to the world in a unique and challenging way. I’m excited to see that Disney characters inspire other artists. It’s pretty fantastic.

  • This is why I shall never understand the fashion industry.

    • Jarrod

      Think of it like concept cars; these aren’t clothes people are expecting people to wear in the street, they’re an exploration of different ideas and parts of those ideas will be picked up by other designers to be expanded on and adapted.

  • Personally, I find all this really bloody annoying. I like new things I haven’t seen before and people trying new things that haven’t been done before. But this general corporate attitude is “why take the risk when we can just ride off something we did awhile ago?” And people just consume it right up. I’m not saying Mickey Mouse isn’t legendary and doesn’t have his place. But there’s also people out there who want to perhaps conceive a new and original iconic character. And these corporations throw all the potential aside by gutting their animation departments and turning down new artists in favor of investing more in remakes and formulaic 3D animated movies. Again, not saying that’s the case all the time, but it seems to be the mainstream.

  • jonhanson

    Mickey isn’t a character, he’s an icon and all kinds of artists like to play with iconography.

    • Mickey used to have somewhat of character (meaning he had more personality). But know he’s pretty much a cooperate symbol. With some of the new shorts coming out though, Disney may put him to good use again.

  • Steffi-Alien

    Not my taste…Creepy and silly looking.:/

  • Josh

    Yeeesh, the thing about so called ‘fashion’ shows like this is that, ironically, they where the ugliest, most garish outfits imaginable. Can you imagine anybody wearing this anywhere but a catwalk?
    Though at least this is better than when they drew Disney characters as fashion models. That was horrifying!

    • Riu Tinubu

      “Can you imagine anybody wearing this anywhere but a catwalk?”

      And just like that you miss the point of high fashion. It’s not about people wearing these clothes in the real world. It’s about pushing and experimenting with clothes as canvas. Clothing as expression, practicality is not the point. I trust your an artist? You’re on an animation website, so I’ll assume as much, but normally only those outside of the art and design world have trouble understanding the basics of ‘fashion design’, you have your practical for consumers, then you have your more outlandish for the more outlandish art side of it all. Both sides inform the other.

  • Marvin

    Does anyone think that without Disney’s massive corporate and legal clout that such a broadly managed fashion phenomenon would ever exist? The look of every one of these ‘fashions’ reeks of ironclad company control. Edgy only in the most abstract sense, otherwise safe as milk.The only statement these clothing articles shout is one of Disney brand awareness.There might be a genuine grassroots nod to Mickey and Minnie, someday, were it allowed to germinate but you can believe it would be a lot more fun as well as more refreshingly irreverent than the ice cold, soul-free examples seen here.

  • Ara

    Fashion in itself is art, so, really, it’s just a bunch of artists being inspired by a beloved cartoon character and icon (as stated by another commenter). The pieces shown above are more than a designer merely “sew(ing) a pair of mouse ears into their fashion.” It’s about inspiration, and a character being translated into a totally different medium. It think it’s pretty cool. Also, its unfair to call it an obsession, when there have also been multiple Simpsons-themed designs that have graced the runway (search up “simpsons fashion week”).

    This article comes off as a “Oohh, look at how weird fashion designers are!!” piece, and it’s not as insightful as it pretends to be. Try to be a bit opened minded…