FRESH from the Fashion East catwalk at London Fashion Week, its onwards and upwards for one of the capital's brightest (quite literally) emerging designers, Matty Bovan. The York-born, London-based fashion designer has teamed up with another famous figure known for her penchant for fluro hues this week: Barbie.
As well as limited-edition merchandise - T-shirts, badges and stickers - inspired by the forever-young fashion muse to mark her 58th birthday (which he will personally launch at Selfridges this Friday in The Fashion East Store in the Designer Studios), Bovan has gone one step further and created a series of exclusive Barbie dolls, dressed in his spring/summer 2017 collection, which will also be on sale at the store.
"Barbie for me, as a child growing up, allowed me to explore my creativity from a very young age," Bovan told us about his own connection with the American doll. "I was always changing her hair colour and style, always mixing up different outfits and making my own. It gave me a way to channel my own very early creativity, so Barbie to me represents a sort of freedom - you can explore your own identity through her."
Few adults would be numb to the nostalgia Barbie evokes. As a self-proclaimed "canvas for creativity", the imagination and creativity it encourages is now attracting a whole new generation now with its new collections, which feature tall, curvy and petite silhouettes.
"Barbie allows both young boys and girls to unlock their imagination of what woman can be - what they do for a career, what they wear, how they act - with Barbie's new dolls it allows children to find the Barbie that best represents who they are and how the feel," Bovan, who's just back from Paris where he styled the Maison Margiela show, elaborated. "There is endless possibilities with Barbie and she carries a kind of timeless quality which is why she still has a huge appeal to both adults and children today."
Far from being limited to this collaboration, Bovan's interest in the female form - specifically challenging pre-conceived identities and ideas of beauty - is something that is palpable at his shows.
"Strong female identity is something I grew up surrounded by and something that I found very inspirational - it extends naturally within my own work and practice," he added. "I design for myself, but also the female version of me - it's all part of my whole identity. I am interested in pushing what beauty and identity is in my work and what is considered beautiful, questioning how the feminine is portrayed within fashion. I am really trying to showcase how these are relevant in 2017 within my own fashion collections and collaborations."
See Bovan's short film inspired by the collaboration and exploring female identity, which he created in collaboration with Lucy Alex Mac, premieres at The Women’s Space in Mayfair tomorrow followed by a panel discussion chaired by Susie Lau, with Nishma Robb, chair of women at Google; Google music producer Nabihah Iqbal; and Zowie Broach, head of fashion at the Royal College of Art.