Saturday, December 12, 2015

Sophia Webster Barbie

Kali Uchis stars as a real life Barbie in Sophia Webster's biggest commercial venture of the year. Notice I merely state year, rather than career not forgetting the capsule collection with Coca Cola, consumer in every country by every demographic rather than a very specific audience. However the latter did not constitute a collection in itself, and was largely ignored by less active and seldom updated fashion blogs. There was a much larger social media campaign, giving the impression that this was a much more significant milestone for Webster. It's been chronicled on fashion blogs before, with behind the photos taken by the tenacious Susie Lau and exclusive posted online by i-D Vice. Such a collaboration is every designer's dream, since so many who aspire towards a job in the fashion industry can regale interviewer's in tales of first making doll's clothes (naturally progressing to creating clothes for themselves and then attending design school). 

I indulged a rather long and seemingly pointless rant and somehow managed to miss introducing Kali Uchis altogether. I wasn't aware of her until sometime this year but she's a Colombian singer and songwriter, raised in Virginia who produces her own music. If you've been reading many of Claire Boucher's interviews this year, you know that many female musicians are strongly discouraged at the highest of levels from producing their own music (and many who start out as producers are slowly worn down by sexism on a daily basis). Criticisms to that industry aside, Kali Uchis is stunning as a real-life Barbie with a modern twist. I was equally surprised and delighted to see they hadn't tried to hide her tattoos on her hand with makeup or in post-production. Members of her entourage were also inked (I spotted a unicorn!) suggesting this isn't a campaign for those who love Barbie. It's an eloquent attempt to reconnect with those who remember her, her iconic image and have grown up with shoe closets and wardrobes of their own. 

While the range was rather small (three pairs of shoes, and three bags by my count) they did perfectly capture the essence of Barbie. Sophia Webster is rather famous for her winged sandals, as seen on the models from the Victoria Secret show and of course there's a pair in pink now. Fashion lovers and Barbie collectors will gravitate towards the jelly sandals with plastic bow on the toe. It's a simple design, superficially resembling shoes from Vivienne Westwood's Anglomania collection but any similarity must be dismissed as purely a coincidence and artifice of such a simple but powerful design. The speech bubble bags also referenced Ken, Barbie's first and one true love, but plainly stated he played second fiddles to shoes... which is what we were all thinking. Thinking out loud here, every Barbie came with a pair of shoes but just how many of her male compatriots were produced in comparison? I feel like that's my kicker, pun intended.