The fashion world loves Disney—who doesn’t? Aside from the nostalgia and escapism these fairy tales offer, we have come to a collective agreement that some Disney movies make more sense—and hit harder—when you watch them as adults despite our upbringing differences. There’s no doubt that Disney appeals to a wide selection of audiences, which of course, include some world-renowned fashion designers too.
That said, a Disney fashion collaboration is not a novelty. Disney’s pop culture appeal stood the test of time, and everyone wants a piece of that magic. Whether it’s a full-fledged collection or an inspired piece or two, Disney characters like the emblematic Mickey Mouse or even villains like Cruella—revealed in the recent prequel to be a fashion designer herself, too—are unquestionably fashion icons.
Karl Lagerfeld (2023)
The late Karl Lagerfeld, for example, was a certified Disney fan who grew up with one of his favourite characters: Donald Duck. Coincidentally, the character made its first appearance on the silver screen months after Lagerfeld was born. The acclaimed designer joined celebrations held by Disneyland Paris to commemorate Donald Duck’s 70th anniversary in 2004 with a sketch of his iterations. In his illustration, Donald donned blue jeans, a black blazer over a high-collar shirt, finished off with a pair of dark sunglasses and a trademark white ponytail. Sound familiar? Indeed, it was a reimagination of Donald in Lagerfeld’s unmistakable image.
As a tribute to Disney’s 100th anniversary, Karl Lagerfeld has recently unveiled The Disney x KARL LAGERFELD capsule that revolves around the late designer’s Donald sketch. The capsule collection features a wide range of items from outerwear like bomber and denim jackets, along with shirts, skirts, trousers, and bags to accessories such as caps.
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That Givenchy’s Bambi shirt, first unveiled by Riccardo Tisci on the 2013 Spring/Summer runway, marked the start of the French maison’s good rapport with Disney. The Bambi-inspired print received tremendous love from the public as well as celebrities. Years later, Tisci’s successor Matthew Williams reignited and heightened the passion for fairy tales, forging a long-term relationship with Disney by releasing not one, but three back-to-back collaborations. The Wonder Gallery commenced with silhouettes of iconic Disney characters, followed by a limited edition series inspired by 101 Dalmatians (1961). To celebrate the year of Rabbit, the duo paired up again for a capsule collection, giving Oswald, the lucky rabbit, the spotlight.
Stella McCartney (2022)
Well-known for being an environmental activist, Stella McCartney also knows a thing or two about magic. The psychedelia collaboration was inspired by the 1940 musical film Fantasia. The dream-like designs incorporated characters from the film (such as Sorcerer Apprentice Mickey) using recycled and repurposed materials including old stock silks.
Alessandro Michele is yet another designer who adores Disney characters—specifically the Donald Duck cartoons he grew up watching. It started with the Donald Duck capsule in 2017 and Snow White in 2018 to the Three Little Pigs for the 2019 Cruise collection and then bags shaped like Mickey’s head bobbing down the Spring/Summer 2019 runway for the character’s 90th anniversary. Michele’s kooky and nostalgic approach to fashion is highly inspired by his childhood, specifically Disney stories in which he leaned into the fairy tale universe as he carves his own path.
Stuart Vevers at Coach loves Disney. Following the success of previous collaborations, the designers took a risky segue way for the duo’s third partnership in 2018 and tapped into the “villains” instead. For their “A Dark Fairy Tale” limited collection, the line draws attention to the antagonists from Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, who are gradually receiving more attention these days. The release of films like Maleficent and Cruella allows the audience to look into the villains’ past, convincing us that these characters are more multifaceted than we may think.