A Barneys New York ad featuring a very skinny Minnie Mouse has prompted outrage. And a few compliments. The ad will be part of Barneys' holiday display "Electric Holiday." Stephanie Elam reports from Beverly Hills for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Oct. 23, 2012.
Agatha Klosterhalfen takes one look at the ad and wonders what happened to her childhood friend.
"I wouldn't recognize this as Minnie Mouse," she said.
The new Barneys New York holiday display that launches next month features a short animated film where Minnie fantasizes that she is in a Paris fashion show. But it's not likely to get Minnie fans like Klosterhalfen in the holiday spirit.
"I don't like it," she said. "I really like the original Minnie Mouse that you remember when you were a child. I guess a little round Minnie Mouse compared to this. I don't like it. She looks anorexic."
In an interview with Women's Wear Daily, Barneys creative director Dennis Freedman recounted the decision to go thin.
“The standard Minnie Mouse will not look so good in a Lanvin dress," Freedman told Women's Wear Daily. "I said, ‘If we are going to make this work, we have to have a 5'11" Minnie,’ and they agreed.”
Tamiel Holloway is another critic.
"Well, first off, I think they are personifying Minnie," Holloway said. "She's not a mouse anymore. And if they were keeping her as an animal that would be one thing but now she's become a woman and not a voluptuous woman, so I think if Minnie is going to envision herself on a runway, she should do it looking like herself.”
The change attracted the attention of Change.Org, which started a petition drive against the display. Supporters include actors Virginia Madsen and Kristin Bauer.
But Disney and Barneys contend the controversy is unfounded, saying the holiday show mainly features Minnie in her normal condition. It's only when she dreams about being at a Paris fashion show that the skinny Minnie emerges.
Barneys Shopper Laure Elswick agrees.
"I think it's playful," Elswick said. "You see it on the runways and I just think it’s kind of a fun, whimsical way of displaying fashion. I like it."
"They are animation," said another shopper, Lisa Ro. "They are not real. It's just for fun."
A Barneys blog noted: "While it is unfortunate the sketches that were intended to be concept art have been taking out of context, Barneys New York is fully committed to the magical spirit of ‘Electric Holiday.’”
And Angelenos don't have to go to New York to weigh in on the issue. A version of the Electric Holiday display will appear at the Barneys New York in Beverly Hills this holiday season.