“When the Bratz dolls were launched back in 2001, people were saying that they were ugly, vulgar, tacky…the same things that many used to say about our clothes,” the designer admitted candidly.
Seated on a sofa in the GCDS offices here — a vibrant, dynamic environment full of Millennials and Gen Zers — Calza discussed the fun collaboration between GCDS and Bratz, the doll label controlled by MGA Entertainment.
“They reached out to me a year ago and I immediately thought that was a perfect match,” he explained, stressing the link between the two brands. “Since their launch, what made the Bratz dolls different from any other competitor in the market is that each of them comes with a specific emotional content, with a developed personality. I love this because this perfectly reflects the approach we have at GCDS, where our biggest ambition is giving people the chance to truly express their uniqueness playing with our products.”
While he admitted that “when I started thinking about how to develop the project, I wanted to do an army of dolls, but it turned out to be too complicated,” Calza focused on two main dolls from the original Bratz series. One is Sasha, featuring dark skin, long dark brown wavy hair and hazel-green eyes. On her Bratz Wiki profile she is defined as “a sassy girl, who has no fear of confrontation or situations and she is very organized; she knows who she is, what she wants, and how to get it! She has a bad temper, which often leads her into trouble.”
The other is Yasmin, or Pretty Princess to her friends, with brown skin, super long light brown hair, and pretty brown eyes. According to Bratz Wiki, Yasmin “can be quiet, but she is a talented writer with a love for animals. Yasmin is feminine, glamorous and stylish and always there for her friends. Even though there is something almost regal about her, Yasmin is not pretentious; she is open-minded and loves alternative trends in fashion, fitness and beauty.”
The two dolls’ personalities are reflected by the creativity of Calza, who created customized looks for both. Taking inspiration from past GCDS collections, he designed two eye-catching looks, filled with tiny details and infused with the playful irony typical of the fashion brand.
Sasha comes dressed in a mini crystal dress layered on a black catsuit. Her outfit also includes a faux fur coat printed with the GCDS logo, over-the-knee boots, gold earrings and a heart-shaped chained bag.
Yasmin sports a minidress with balloon sleeves splashed with a Bratz-themed allover print and cinched at the waist with a sparkling logo belt. Her glamorous accessories include earrings with the GCDS logo, heeled clogs and a lilac tote bag. As in all the Bratz dolls, both Sasha and Yasmin’s feet are removable, enabling a change of shoes.
Available in a limited quantity of 30,000 pieces, distributed to specialty stores across the globe, the GCDS x Bratz dolls will also be featured in the “Bratzology” book, with a cascade of stickers allowing consumers to create a one-of-a-kind Bratz that can be dressed and styled with myriad clothes and accessories.
“It’s 100 percent about 2000s nostalgia,” said Calza, referring to the fact that sticker books were popular in that period, when Bratz mania also boomed. “You can create the Bratz you want: We included all the skin colors, all the eye shapes.…It’s all about individuality that is also the main message of my creative direction…with my collections I tell people: ‘You do you.’”
Calza, who also teamed up with MGA Entertainment to create a Bratz doll of himself and of seven of his personal female friends and friends of the brand, developed a special clothing capsule dedicated to the Bratz world. Conceived to be unisex, the lineup spans from hoodies printed with Bratz’s slogan “Passion for Fashion,” which is also rendered in crystals on a jersey off-the-shoulder dress, to shorts printed with a pattern of Bratz dolls and bra tops.
The customized Bratz dolls, as well as a range of gadgets, will be available at a holiday pop-up shop that GCDS will run from Dec. 1 to Dec. 31 on Milan’s Via Sant’Andrea, in the city’s Golden Triangle luxury shopping district.
The pop-up shop, which will feature a 6.2-foot resin Bratz doll by artist Colin Christian, will also carry five GCDS gift boxes. Among them, the Fur-Lover contains faux fur pieces that include a fisherman’s hat and bag and slippers bearing the brand’s logo in black and white, while the Happy Sock-Mas version carries three logoed rib socks. For a GCDS sleepover, the Logo Lounger box offers a pajama set, ashtray and sleep mask, all embellished with a pattern blending ’60s geometric designs and the brand’s logo.
“I’m obsessed with Christmas, probably because my family never really cared about that,” said Calza, who described the GCDS gift shop as a “sort of restaurant offering poke bowls, you just get there, you see the menu and you pick your gift.”
GCDS, which a year ago received an investment from Italian private equity firm Made in Italy Fund, managed by Quadrivio and Pambianco, employs 65 people and operates boutiques in Rome, Florence and London, as well as five other units in mainland China and Hong Kong.
While the company is in the process of relocating its Milan flagship and next spring will open a store in a seaside destination, GCDS also aims to open a boutique in New York.