It's not that the Comme des Garçons designer, Rei Kawakubo, dislikes feminine clichés. Far from it. In the past, her visionary collections have featured hearts, flowers, pom-poms, polka dots, frills of all shapes and sizes and even more than a little powder pink all, however, in a wilfully contrary – even twisted – way.
Still, news that this fashion deity has designed a Comme des Garçons Barbie Doll (below) comes as something of a surprise, not to mention relief, to all those who still consider the toy to be about as emancipated and inspiring a presence for young girls the world over as, well, as a chastity belt, not to put too fine a point on it. You're out there and you know who you are.
Those expecting the CdG Barbie to be clad in a black shroud peppered with holes, though, will be disappointed. Which century are you living in for pity's sake? Of course Comme des Garçons did that way back when, but once everyone else started doing it too perhaps the greatest designer of our time moved swiftly – and quite possibly irrevocably – on.
The Comme des Garçons Barbie has abundant, waist-length chestnut brown tresses – almost as abundant as Cheryl Cole's, which is saying quite something – and just the ultra-long eyelashes, heavily made-up lids, arched brow and perfect Cupid's bow pout that might be expected of this perfectly plastic icon.
Her dress is of a kind that the budding prom queen might like to wear. It may not be as short and tight-fitting as tends to be the case. She's no shrinking violet, Barbie, and, left to her own devices, is perhaps overly enamoured of flash, flesh-revealing trash. Comme des Garçons' Barbie has big, photographic-print cabbage roses all over her big, full-skirted frock which is – crucially – longer at the back than at the front; and stands away from the body rather than clinging to its every curve. Her shoes, equally, are far from the gold, strappy variety. They're black – some things never change – and have only a modest heel instead of the habitual killer one. Without at least some height, poor Barbie's feet are not formed to touch the ground but then neither are Victoria Beckham's by now.
The Comme des Garçons Barbie is part of the Jingle Flowers series, created by the brand which is clearly in high spirits for Christmas, and is a limited edition – it's a grown-up toy selling for a grown-up £225. There are those who might argue that's only a small price to pay for the privilege of playing with dolls safe in the knowledge that it's an entirely credible – and indeed fashionable – activity after all.