When Lady Gaga wore an outfit composed of dozens of Kermit the Frogs stitched together for a German television interview a couple of years ago, a firestorm of feedback about her outlandish ensemble blew up within the pop culture and fashion worlds. The piece, created by designer Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, is an excellent example of the growing influence of character design in fashion and art, an idea that is the core of the new book, Not A Toy: Fashioning Radical Characters. Published by Pictoplasma, Not A Toy is the first book that explores how the play with character — reduced and abstract figures with a strong anthropomorphic appeal and bold graphical silhouette — create pieces that are avant-garde, striking or playful.
To illustrate character design’s aesthetic influence, Not A Toy features work from a number of established and up-and-coming designers such as Issey Miyake, Walter van Beirendonck, Maison Martin Margiela, Hussein Chalayan, Bernhard Willhelm, Gareth Pugh, Christophe Coppens, Cassette Playa, Charlie Le Mindu, Shin Murayama and many others. In addition, the book contains original essays by design and fashion scholars including ADHT’s Assistant Professor of Fashion Studies, Francesca Granata, and Valerie Steele, chief curator of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology.