Jeremy Scott’s spring/summer 2015 collection for Moschino caused an Insta-stampede, nearly breaking the internet when he sent human Barbie dolls down the catwalk. But does the look work on the mean streets of Dubai? Weighed down by eyelashes, Olivia Phillips finds out…
I’m like a vampire Barbie; I only come out at night. Daylight hours, on the other hand, are a very different story, with me championing a pretty consistent, low-fi uniform of skinny jeans, biker jackets and a scruffy bun.
My nocturnal counterpart, however, stands in almost unrecognisable contrast; her heels are high and her hair even higher. So although donning Jeremy Scott’s Barbie-inspired Moschino collection wasn’t as much of an almighty leap for me as it would be for, say, the rest of the world, it still required a certain amount of chutzpah to take it to the streets. The catwalk is one thing (and so is the rooftop at 40 Kong), but Spinney’s is quite another. Still, not one to balk at a bit of on-the-ground, hands-dirty, method journalism (I once ate a duck’s tongue for a review. True story!), I located my audacity and got out there to see exactly how the looks would translate to real life. Intrepid Journalist Barbie, if you will.
It only took one Google search to reveal exactly how popular Barbie still is – but a far more entertaining barometer was watching the office’s reaction when a giant box from Moschino arrived at my desk. With the same fervour usually reserved for a Magnolia delivery, I was suddenly surrounded by a cluster of excited, giggling women on the edge.
Everyone had a story to share – from the doll they had in the 1980s wearing the exact same dress, to the toy dreamhouse they used to play in with their sister. That powerful sense of nostalgia, and that unifying, almost categorical common ground, is something not many things could manage. Moschino seems to have achieved it to the next level, creating a collection overflowing with universal happy memories. Indeed, Jeremy Scott said of the collection: “ I approach everything with so much humour.” And as gimmicky as some naysayers may have accused it of being, I now have first-hand experience of its mood-enhancing capabilities – for me, and for literally everyone who had my very pink person cross their path.
For a start, it turns previously mute colleagues into your new best friend in the office bathroom. People you have literally never laid eyes on before want to have a good old chinwag, all-pink leather acting as some kind of conversational lubricant. Everyone, and I mean everyone, smiles. Doors open. Small animals and children stare. You get a hand with your shopping and a wink with your Starbucks. And when you post a selfie onto Facebook you get 93 likes and 28 comments and it makes you feel a little bit important. You also get people who you haven’t heard from in three years sending you dubious private messages, but that’s a small price to pay for becoming a social media sensation for three and a half minutes. Such is the power of pink, people.
Practicality, then, becomes almost superfluous. It might be a glorious 30-degree desert day, but I’ll be damned if I’m not going to wear my spray-on leather skirt suit to do the weekly shop. Navigating the supermarket aisles, I felt like a saucy Stepford Wife. A cupcake tray ended up in my basket. And some oven gloves. It was weird. People often accuse fashion of being too esoteric, not accessible enough. I can report that I managed to buy some bananas in Look One from Moschino, completely unhindered. I did, on the other hand, get unwittingly, and worryingly, into character. I forgot a pair of my Louboutins in the toilets after changing outfits. Forgetful Barbie. I, when wearing an enormous puffball dress, tried to answer my office phone whilst standing and ricocheted off my desk. No Sense Of Spacial Awareness Barbie. And when being photographed having a meeting in Ladurée, I shoved a fake macaron in my mouth after being told in no uncertain terms that it was display only. Insanity Barbie. It started to rub off on my companions, too – Alex our videographer deciding to just ‘double check’ that I had indeed bitten into plaster by trying it out for himself. Auditioning for the part of Ken, perhaps.
Walking back through JBR, the looks were plentiful but surreptitious. Bar a few spectators who stopped to take pictures (thank-you for restoring my faith in shamelessness – I was briefly convinced that everyone had been castrated by manners), people would stare, but only when they thought I couldn’t see.
Also: not one person sang Aqua’s Barbie Girl at me. NOT ONE. I mean, come on. Frankly, I was disappointed at the lack of clichés. It raised that age-old question of whether you dress for yourself or others, as however cheerful my ensemble made me, I still felt the small need for validation from others. It’s kind of the sartorial equivalent of if a tree falls in the forest and there’s no one around to hear it. If you’re outrageously attired and no one bats an eyelid, it kind of takes the fun out of it, no? “Habibti, this is Dubai,” a straight-shooting friend told me after I had a little moan about it on the (vanity mirror) phone. “OTT is expected, remember?” Satisfied with this, I changed into the piece de résistance; a very short, very wide and very sequinned mini dress straight outta 1983, and made my merry way to Art Dubai to meet a blissfully unaware friend.
“What in the name of Joan Collins are you wearing? You look like a cake! Don’t stand so close to me,” he said. I’m falling at the last hurdle so decide to rapidly explain myself. “I’m doing a road test!” I shout over the music. “A protest? What the hell are you protesting against?! Rational clothing?” Well, two out of three workable outfits ain’t bad. I drag my mortified friend to Q43 and then back to change into my civvies which, I won’t lie, now seem really sad in comparison.
If Jeremy Scott has tapped into anything, it’s unadulterated whimsy. It might be obvious, brash even – but it fits our current filtered, Insta-existence perfectly – there’s no denying the collection looks great in a picture. A very wise person once told me life was too short to wear boring clothes. And as long as Scott’s around, there’s really not much danger of that.
The Moschino boutiques are located in The Dubai Mall and The Galleria, Al Maryah Island
Now watch the video…
Photography: Farooq Salik
Photographer’s Assistant: Alex Atack
Make-up: The Dollhouse Salon
Hair: Andrea Lindeyer at Be Bar
Nails: The Nail Spa
With thanks to Spinneys, Ladurée on The Beach and Q43 at Media One.