Paul Frank’s Circus Jumble was a standout at New York Fashion Week—and not only because its runway models actually ate.
After modeling Paul Frank’s Spring/Summer 2016 collection, a boy no taller than three-and-half-feet, still in his runway ensemble, chewed rainbow-colored gummy worms and scurried towards the woman handing out scoops of ice cream to all who had gathered in Hudson Mercantile.
Even with nourishment, there were still the expected runway divas.
I asked a ginger-haired model if he had fun. He said yes rather listlessly before turning to his mother and whining “I want a balloon animal.”
A few minutes later, a future Naomi Campbell scurried towards cotton candy while her father hurried behind her, hoping to avoid a meltdown.
Admittedly, this behavior is certainly more excusable in the under-12 set. But don’t let the age of the models belie the extravagance of the Paul Frank show.
Riri and Anna Wintour may stick to Zac Posen or Givenchy, but the future masters of the universe hobnobbed at Paul Frank in a sugary haze—or at least as much sugar as the New York elite would allow their progeny.
Mothers who looked like they’d easily blend into the Real Housewives of New York cast escorted their children around, procuring coconut water and sugar-free soda to balance out the cakes and candies.
The Paul Frank Circus Jumble offered plenty of non-edible delights to entertain these moneyed tykes: stilt-walkers in gold sequin corsets, trapeze artists, and carnival games where one could win stuffed versions of the signature Paul Frank monkey, Julius (a prize, much to my dismay, I was told was “only for the children”).
Speaking of the iconic Julius, his face was nearly impossible to spot on the runway.
The tots and pre-tweens who strutted their stuff to Bruno Mars and Justin Timberlake were all in sleek, futuristic sportswear.
Shiny, gold, puffy vests were paired with white cropped pants covered in metallic circular patterns.
Retro-cut white and pink basketball shorts graced with silver animal prints were paired with hot pink wristbands, white-and pink-striped knee socks, and pink Converses.
Boys wore navy and orange leggings in a leopard-esque prints with navy shorts over them.
It was all pretty adorable, as model Coco Rocha was moved to note via Instagram. “Nice to see models having fun on the runway for a change,” she wrote, signing off with a ‘winky face’ emoticon.
This Paul Frank was unrecognizable to someone like me who spent junior high surrounded by girls in pastel-colored Paul Frank shirts with Julius splashed across the chest.
I had to ask Stan Wan, Paul Frank’s new creative director, where was Julius?
“We're not ignoring Julius the monkey,” he assured me. “We're still evolving the business. This is more the fashion component. We want to make sure Paul Frank is not limited to t-shirts. We want to take it to the world of fashion.”
I have to say that on the kiddies, the Paul Frank collection was adorably cutting-edge and chic—though perhaps excessively so to anyone who spent their youth shopping at suburban mall signatures.
Then again, as I spotted a blond two-year-old in a fedora and more private school uniforms than I could count, I realized this wasn’t the typical shopping mall set.