I love Minions. I adore their squeaky little cries, pudgy fingers, and plodding cloddishness. If, in some dystopian universe, where Dune Rats were actually talented and Minions were tiny criminals, and they murdered Dune Rats, and I was called to the police station to identify which Minion gone done the kill, I would be able to name him. I could tell you if it was Bob, Kevin, or Stuart.
Obviously, this hypothetical situation is made redundant as Dune Rats will never be so important to warrant assassination, and Minions are too pure to even think about taking another human life. The point is: I have invested some time in familiarizing myself with these adorable yellow freaks. I understand, however, that they are contentious figures, and many believe that they should stay within the confines of toy stores, Universal Studios, and Pinterest; that the only adults that like them either wear cat ears in public, or are called Judy and work in administration; and, most crucially, that Minions have no place in fashion. I am here to debunk these myths.
Before you wag your wee fingers at me and say: “Isabella, I don’t care, Minions are stupid,” I know. Peter Coffin, who created these beautiful little beasts, has literally said that Minions are so dumb, that they could not possibly be girls. It is widely acknowledged and accepted that Minions are dim. This cannot be used as rebuttal to refute the dignity of Minions. You may also say, though: “Isabella, I don’t care, Minions are embarrassing, and will never be regarded as anything more than a shrill, jaundiced Tic Tac targeted towards children,” and this is where you are wrong. Minions are high fashion: Vogue said so.
Yes, really. Vogue, specifically Vogue Britain, the most profitable publication in the United Kingdom, and often touted as one of the most influential and powerful fashion magazines on the planet, endorsed Minions. The company released a short video in 2013, consisting of a series of Minion-based interviews with globally renowned fashion figures. Alber Elbaz, the Creative Director of Lanvin for fourteen years, described Minions as “divine”, and stated “he likes to have lunch with Kevin.” Stephen Jones, one of the most radical and prolific milliners the world has seen, discussed how he enjoys drawing portraits of Minions in different contexts; relaxing in the South of France, flying to the moon, and jousting in the fourteenth century, for example. There is footage of the famed shoe designer, Rupert Sanderson, being interrupted mid-speech by a phone call from Bob, or possibly Kevin, screaming down the receiver in Minionese. Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana say they listen to audiotapes in bed to learn this same language. They created a physical copy of the magazine with Stuart on the cover. Suzy Menkes, the International Editor for nineteen global editions of Vogue, sat down with a graphic designer and said: “Yes, please, I want the sentence ‘Minion Effort: Maximum Impact’ on the cover of Vogue Britain, and throw in ‘50 Shades of Yellow’ while you’re at it!”
The prestige of Vogue Britain stems from the fact that it is more than simply a fashion bible: it is a reflection of the continually evolving chronicle of culture, translating the mood of the moment through visuals. During the Second World War, the magazine was given extra paper, as its success and aspirational allure was considered fundamental to fostering civilian morale. Fashion had symbolic value as a manifestation of tenacious spirit in the face of adversity. The brilliant Cecil Beaton shot the aptly named Fashion is Indestructible for the September edition of Vogue in 1941. A model stands amongst the ruins of Middle Temple in London, a monument destroyed by the Blitz; donning a tweed Digby Morton suit, her back is turned from the camera as she gazes at a plaque, which reads that the site had been destroyed before in the Great Fire, but it managed to rise again. The photograph encapsulates the defiance of a nation that refuses to succumb to the ravages of war, and supports the notion that fashion, too, will persevere through crisis. Looking to 1993, Corinne Day shot the aspirant model, Kate Moss, for the March cover of Vogue; unadorned and raw, it signaled a stark rebellion to the excess of Eighties hedonism. The cover became synonymous with, and groomed the launch of the insurmountably influential and controversial trend, ‘heroin chic’, a grunge-inspired phenomenon favouring the languid, the rangy, and the ‘waif.’ It is impossible to deny the magazine’s impact.
Some might say that, like Minions, Vogue has a niche brand of devotees: blonde; has a cupboard full of Diptyque candles; adores Gwyneth Paltrow. The Vogue reader and the Minions fan are diametrically opposed. Why, then, has the largest fashion conglomerate on the planet endorsed these beautiful little boys? The most obvious answer is sponsorship. In fact, the video is captioned as being ‘in partnership with Universal’. I would like to imagine that yellow and white defied adversity in the Vogue Britain office in Mayfair by sternly shaking hands to signal a deal, vehemently thinking they were going to rock the people to their core by introducing the most ingenious collaboration ever. They did. On behalf of the entire populace of the world, I can confirm that Vogue and Minions have left me quivering with sheer anticipation.
No amount of money, however, can justify this partnership. Vogue Britain saw something in Minions: themselves. Vogue is a universally acclaimed and prolific brand, with its Didot-esque font being instantly recognizable. Similarly, blue and yellow are associated with the creatures; Minion Yellow even became Pantone certified in 2015. Vogue Britain is fluid, evolving with the changing pace of the world. It has remained an industry leader since its inception, standing as a defiant source of inspiration and aspiration. Minions, too, have captured the hearts of many: their reach is insurmountable. They have graced memes with captions like: “And The Lord Said – “Let there be Sexy People” and “Poof” Here I Am”; had their little faces slapped on every piece of stationery and banana-flavoured foodstuff imaginable; featured in a slew of multi-million dollar productions; inspired a bevy of makeup tutorials; and, finally, influenced the course of fashion. In 2015, an ensemble of London-based designers, including Rupert Sanderson, Giles Deacon, and Piers Atkinson, teamed to launch the Minions Bello Yellow Collection, bringing us satin court shoes, swinging shift dresses, and little bowler hats. In the same year, the internationally renowned arts and design college, Central Saint Martins, collaborated with NBCUniversal to create the Minions Collective, an immersive fashion showcase. Students were invited to design and create garments or accessories inspired by Minions, and dancers were to unveil these outfits in a live fashion-dance performance. The cult Japanese street-wear brand BAPE has released two Minion-exclusive capsule collections, in 2015 and 2017 respectively. Minions are fashion influencers and Vogue Britain was their enabler.
As a society, I doubt we will ever understand the omnipresent power of Minions; we can, however, learn something from Vogue Britain’s endorsement of them. Due to the publication’s immense cultural weighting and global significance, the feature forces us to reconsider our relationship with Minions, and question their greater societal influence. Vogue has shown us that, not only can self-assurance be found in the most abstract forms, but also that brilliance can be carved from the most obtuse design. The one entity that has pervaded not only our lives, but also the fashion industry the deepest has been, essentially, a yellow bullet vibrator with steam-punk goggles. Is that not just papaya? (Translation: Minionese for beautiful.)
Words by Isabella Corbett
This article first appeared in print volume 88 edition 6 BLUE.