• Peter Marsh


Last month I was obsessively listening to Lil' Kim's "How Many Licks?". It's such a good tune and total filth! Not quite sure why or how I got onto the throwback but I'm glad I rekindled my love for Lil' Kim.

The video is one of my favourite video's of all time and has been a weird source of inspiration to me. The sugarcoated sass and playful, cheeky, sexual humour of the Lil' Kim dolls combined with vibrant colour, bold fashion and the manufacturing, mass production, factory aspect.

I love it. It's like a porno version of a Barbie advert- an after dark special, not suitable for kids.

My Lil Dolls- Lil Jakey Boy. Illustrated by Peter Marsh. Available on prints and products at https://society6.com/mylilpetey.

When I first started researching for my finial major project when I was doing my BA in fashion (feels like a lifetime ago), I gravitated towards Barbie as part of my inspiration. I've always being fascinated with Barbie and I wanted a similar fun loving, lively spirit that the Barbie brand has.

Sketch book work.

Barbie is full of contradictions. On one hand she's a role model with a "dream it, be it", "I can be..", go-getter attitude but on the other hand she is the unreachable, unrealistic ideal of feminine beauty and perfection without diversity. (Although Mattel has just realised. She is one of the most influential fictional characters in pop culture with the ideal perfect lifestyle; perfect boyfriend, perfect look, perfect careers, perfect house etc.)

In my opinion, Barbie is not a role model and should never be looked at in this way. She is an icon. The ultimate fashion icon at that. The fantasy, the dream. She doesn't intend to be real. She's a fashion doll, a cartoon character, a toy; nothing more really.

It is essentially the player and their imagination get to decide who Barbie is. The boyfriend, her friends, her cars, houses etc, are just options. The Barbie world is sold separately.

One of her major slogans/campaigns is "I can be...".  She is whatever and whoever you want her to be.

I used this idea of "I can be..." and infused it within this project. I wanted to create an interactive experience to showcase my brand "X Claim Nation". I had a life size doll box made with my print covering the interior and a model dancing inside it, wearing a look from the collection "Corruption". I would let the models come out, leaving the box empty, inviting anyone to come into the box; take photos, do whatever they felt like doing inside the box.

My style; the brand's aesthetic is a contrast with Barbie's mass produced look. Originally I wanted the models in the same wigs and make up but that didn't really fit the brand and it felt too literal. "X Claim Nation" empowers the individuals and the creative. The box is pretty ironic because the style and attitude is "out of the box"; loud, bold, punk without the aggression.

For this installation piece, I wanted to create a carefree, quite an exhibitionist vibe that reflects the clothing.  When people saw the exhibition I wanted them to feel  excited, I wanted them to feel like they wanted to be part of it. Either the fantasy- playing dress up, creating a character or a different persona or the reality- feeling being free to express themselves however they wanted. I wanted to create a space for people to play.

I think it's crucial to create the "wannabe", the need to be part of or the need to have that when advertising a brand especially in fashion and I thought this was the best way to do that and convey my concept.

After the success of the "X Claim Nation" doll box at Canal Mills and Leeds College of Art, it was then commissioned by my tutor, Suzy Mason for Speed Queen. The club night has a very similar mood to "X Claim Nation" so it fit perfectly. The night was awesome. It was so good be part of something like that. Hopefully I'll have the opportunity sometime in the future to do something like this again.

Print available on prints and products on https://society6.com/mylilpetey.

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