Friday Column | Barbie to the Rescue!

Danielle Scutt and Roksanda Ilincic, courtesy of Mandi Lennard Publicity

LONDON, United Kingdom I was surprised to see that a number of big-name sponsors have signed on recently to support the upcoming round of fashion shows.

In London, Henry Holland’s show will be sponsored by Sebastian, makers of hair care products. And Barbie is making an appearance in both New York and London — thanks to the fact that it is her 50th birthday. Mattel, makers of Barbie, have signed a three-year partnership deal with the Council of Fashion Designers of America and become a sponsor of New York Fashion Week while in London they’ve hired Roksanda Ilincic and Danielle Scutt to design dresses for their little dolls and also sponsored their shows. This is notable in a climate where a lot of fashion show sponsorship has simply dried up.

“People really don’t realise what a struggle it is to finance a collection when you are starting out, so to gain support from a company such as Barbie at this stage of my label, is brilliant,” Danielle Scutt told The Business of Fashion.

For Ilincic, it’s a blast from the past. “I am delighted with the Barbie sponsorship! As a little girl I used to make special dresses, hair and make-up for Barbie, she says, “and to be able to do the same thing today, but with a little bit more knowledge, is such a treat!”

As for the rest … well there’s no doubt that it will be a much quieter season than years gone by. But that might be a good thing. Pretty much everyone involved from the PRs, to the editors to the retailers was sick of the fashion show parade and the sheer number of shows that were packed into the schedule.

Then again, shorter does not necessarily mean sweeter. So far it looks like the mighty — not the worthy — will survive. Eagerly anticipated shows by influential designers, loved by press and retailers alike, including Peter Som in New York and Duro Olowu in London have been shelved, and are being replaced by presentations or appointments. Yes, those are nice ways to see the clothes up close, but they cannot replace the excitement of a runway show.

Will the designers staying on the schedule reap the reward of less competition? Probably. Nothing looks quite as good in a fashion wrap-up issue as a runway shot and it’s likely retailers will fall back on the security of the big names when placing orders. But for attendees of the shows, it’ll make for a pretty dismal season, watching collection after collection by mega-brand after mega-brand.

Unless, of course, they have young daughters at home. Because it’s shaping up to be a banner year for Barbie. Such a sponsorship deal may have got lost in a flurry in earlier seasons. Now she has the biggest show in town.

Lauren Goldstein Crowe is co-author of a book on Jimmy Choo to be published by Bloomsbury later this year

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1 comment

  1. “Then again, shorter does not necessarily mean sweeter. So far it looks like the mighty — not the worthy — will survive.”
    Isn’t it a thing to worry about? I can clearly see why the likes of Karl Lagerfeld don’t really care the horror of the current economic climate but let’s face it: the LVMH darlings and Gucci Group kids are least possible names to fall victims of the downturn. But what can we say about those who don’t have such a monstrous back-up nor financial freedom for a ‘let them eat cake’ mood? How many talented and promising names will this thing eat alive? I do hope there’s some room for justice and miracles in this world, but really… Won’t it make the giants feel even stronger, while independent labels will have to struggle for the right to just survive?

    PS Nice to see you, Lauren. Miss your Fashion.Inc blog at

    dbp from Odessa, Odessa Oblast, Ukraine