From pink buses, pink billboards and pink landmarks, Barbie has once again taken over the world. The famous Mattel doll, who has received both compliments and criticisms over the years, is finally making her live-action debut in the upcoming movie on July 21st. The marketing campaign has proved highly original, from renaming tube stations to constructing a dreamhouse Airbnb in Malibu. I want to highlight the designers involved in the world premieres and the looks that Margot Robbie has been sporting. These have been nothing short of magnificent. Each look has been carefully curated as a homage to the original doll, proving to everyone that her style is timeless.
It's not just the designers that have been at the forefront of pushing Barbie’s iconic pink style. Creators and creatives everywhere have jumped onto what the media is calling ‘Barbiemania.’ TikTok and Instagram have been flooded with videos of people dressing in fashion, from bold colours to flashy prints, intricate embellishments to daring silhouettes. It’s feminine, fun, camp, and completely and utterly Barbie! We’ve also seen men taking part, both as Barbie and Ken. Those who can pull it off have some serious Ken-ergy.
Due to the almighty span of Barbie's Existence, her fashion sense ranges, The one-piece swimwear Margot wears in a scene that’s been compared to 2001: A Space Odyssey is a nod to the original doll from 1959. In other clips, she can be seen in neon colours with roller skates, a reflection of the 1980s love for aerobics and all things bold. Margot can also be seen sporting a sparkly 1970s disco-inspired dress whilst dancing to what, in my opinion, is shaping up to be one of the most iconic soundtracks in film history. No wonder so many people have jumped on the Barbie trend, there’s space for everything and everyone!
"A much-welcomed mood-booster after the last few years, 'Barbiecore' is all about embracing vibrant hues — particularly the doll's signature hot pink — in everyday life,” Trend expert Dayna Isom Johnson explained to Good Morning America. "And with many nostalgic for simpler, sunnier, and more carefree times, it only makes sense that this '80s-inspired, unapologetically pink aesthetic is taking centre stage as the 'it' style of the summer." Given the recent years of economic hardship, Covid-19, and general Oppenheimer-y vibes, it’s no wonder people are embracing the Barbie lifestyle.
Despite being at the forefront of this summer's fashion inspiration, the doll’s image within pop culture has been called into question numerous times. Many have criticised the unrealistic slim body standards of the Barbie doll, the lack of diversity gender stereotyping related to Barbie’s career choices, and racial stereotyping in their 1997 ‘Black Oreo Barbie.’ Mattel has since worked to listen to the audience, but most immediately think of the blonde-haired, blue-eyed Caucasian original doll when referring to Barbie which is often when the Barbie is called into question.
The evolution of the infamous doll has changed considerably since the original doll in 1959. Mattel’s Barbie has 176 dolls in its line as of 2020, including 176 male and female dolls. These dolls include 94 hairstyles, 35 skin tones and nine various body shapes. The toy firm included a doll with behind-the-ear hearing aids, a doll with a prosthetic leg, as well as a Ken doll with vitiligo, all boasting the varied Fashionistas range. Barbiecore, in line with Mattel's vision, challenges gender norms and makes a feminist statement. As Chazlyn Yvonne Stunson, a fashion blogger, told Insider, "I believe that our perceptions of the archetypal Barbie girl with the beautiful figure and blonde hair have evolved. Today, all kinds of people—including myself—participate in the aesthetic.” We can see this within director Gerta Gerwig's vision, the Barbie’s within the trailer are of all types of size, nationality, and race.
Barbie has been the inspiration of celebrities and designers alike in recent years. So was her comeback into the positive light expected? I couldn’t tell you, but it was highly coincidental that a particular type of pink had made its way back to the runway. Following the Valentino show in March 2022, hot pink was prominent at that year's Grammy Awards, with Saweetie wearing a striking ensemble and Justin Bieber sporting a vivid fuchsia beanie.
Soon after, the celebs brought the look to Coachella in April, where it quickly caught on. While headliner Harry Styles dazzled in pink feathers (and unexpected guest Lizzo matched), Conan Grey was dressed in couture Valentino. The Barbie look was also prominent on the Met Gala red carpet in 2022, where Glenn Close wore an electric pink suit and Sebastian Stan wore a monochrome pink ensemble from head to toe (both pieces were created by Valentino).
What have we learnt? Barbie isn’t just pink. Nor is Barbie one size, race, gender or ‘type’ of individual. And If Barbie taught us anything growing up, it's that your style and how you dress makes you, you. Barbie is about self-love and showing love towards other people. She would definitely not be one to judge if you went completely against her style (we truly love a self-aware queen). Barbie is embracing yourself and incorporating your style into that. Your fashion sense is part of your identity, and that is something that truly deserves to be centre stage.
Barbie is released in theatres on 21st July 2023
Edited by Barney Nuttall, Deputy Editor in Chief