iStyle: Toy story

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Fashion is obsessed with kitschy cartoons, and now the two have joined forces, explains Naomi Attwood

Cartoon characters have broken free from the small screen and taken over the catwalk. From Bambi-print sweaters at Givenchy to Jeremy Scott’s manic eyeball prints, this season has a strong kitsch aesthetic; part Nineties retro, with a sense of subverting sickly sweet, girly femininity, part having fun at the same time.

But while old-school favourites are going strong, it’s the stars of a new cartoon and doll range, Ever After High, who have now inspired some of London’s brightest young designers. For those who aren’t  familiar with it, Ever After High is where the teenage offspring of fairytale characters go to school. Split into two cliques, the Royals follow in their parent’s footsteps while the Rebels, well, rebel.

To celebrate the launch of the cartoon, a special fashion range has been commissioned, and who better to design it than the young creatives of the Fashion East collective – Ryan Lo, Claire Barrow, Ashley Williams and Bobby Abley, of Fashion East offshoot MAN – whose cartoon-watching days aren’t that far behind them? The  designers have each created a distinctive bag, while DJ and writer Princess Julia’s watercolour paintings adorn T-shirts.

The limited-edition bags echo the  vibrant pink and purple palette and cartoon sensibility of the franchise; from Ashley William’s Muppet-worthy faux-fur raccoon bag to Abley’s graphic rucksack, the designers are well-suited to the brief.

Menswear designer Abley said: “I feel very lucky to be involved; the excitement overwhelms me a little. For me it’s perfect. I’ve always wanted to dress a doll.”

As for the switch from fashion to  fantasy, Williams’s and Barrow’s models both carried stuffed animals as  accessories for autumn/winter, while Abley’s collection was set in a Blue  Peter-esque spaceship.

In fact, Abley is such a cartoon aficionado that he has Ariel, Disney’s Little Mermaid, tattooed on his arm. No doubt his creations will live happily ever after.

Ever After High collaborations and dolls go on sale at the Toy Shop, Selfridges London tomorrow; everafterhigh.com

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