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Ready To Wear: Is Barbie London Fashion Week’s most unusual backer?


It's a good season for cartoon heroines. As if it's not enough that Minnie Mouse is currently the source of inspiration for one-off designs by names including Giles Deacon, Richard Nicoll, Piers Atkinson and Meadham Kirchhoff (that's quite a roll call – and it's for charity), Louise Gray's show, which takes place at London Fashion Week later today, is sponsored by Barbie.

"My clothes are always about colour and fun – making a bold statement through the way you dress," says Gray. "I want to see Barbie in some separates and layer up her look, giving her a different way to be girly and fun than how people are used to seeing her."

How great. I love what Louise Gray does. The designer says she played with Barbie as a child but I'd hazard a guess she might have been the type to customize her dolls just a little – or indeed quite a lot. She might have cut their hair off, perhaps, painted their eyebrows blue, say, and, of course, given them a distinctive new wardrobe all of their own – one that would be the envy of every other cool girl in her year.

"Barbie is a big fan of Louise Gray so we are delighted to support her show," Emma Stowers, marketing manager of Mattel, confirms. And so Barbie should be because she's about to receive the mother of all makeovers. She may be the world's favourite doll, and with a heritage in clothing to match, but she's still, for the most part, pure apple pie Americana. And Louise Gray's signature is not that.

Don't be surprised, then, if Barbie's hair is bleached platinum – as opposed to boring old honey blonde. Neither is Barbie, in Gray's capable hands, likely to wear capri pants, a neck scarf or even a gold lurex ballgown (Barbie, according to a source close to her, loves a gold lurex ballgown).

Instead, Louise Gray's Barbie will doubtless be bedecked in neon colour, polka dots, sequins, tassles and stripes – all on one jumper. She may wear ripped tights too – Barbie, the morning after the night before. And as for her accessories… Suffice it to say that these too will be the boldest and bravest in town.