Barbiecore is a term making the internet rounds in large part due to the upcoming movie starring Margo Robbie and Ryan Gosling, directed by Greta Gerwig. The behind-the-scenes photos trickle from the set to our devices and set our cultural imaginations ablaze with the bright, joyful, unabashed fashion choices.
Set to release in July of 2023, the film has a stacked cast of celebrities but the specific roles and plot is being kept tightly under wraps. We know there is a Ken and multiple Barbies. We know that it's a comedy but may have its darker moments. That's it.
With that little to go on it's only natural that everyone would hold on to the fashion for dear life. Retro spandex roller skating ensemble? Yes, please. Hot pink lace-up pants with star-detailed bell bottoms? Sign me up!
Many of the outfits we're seeing actually match up to the 90s dolls with a few tweaks for 2022, which is really the crux of Barbiecore.
Barbie-inspired style for the real world: Who is behind the trend?
The movie isn't the only one creating Barbie looks. While they might be literally building a Barbie wardrobe for the imaginary world of their film, designers and A-listers are channelling Barbie for the real world.
The Moschino spring 2015 ready-to-wear ode to Barbie on the runway felt like the catalyst for the millennial pink craze which was the last time we saw Barbie's signature colour in the spotlight. In 2022, the trend has been updated to favour fuschia and louder shades of pink paired with texture and sheen. Moschino, in some ways, hinted that the shift was coming when they dressed Kacey Musgraves for the 2019 Met Gala in a full-on Barbie cosplay complete with motorcycle jacket turned gown and a hairdryer handbag.
The recent Valentino Haute Couture Fall/Winter 22/23 show had several VIP guests sporting pink with 3D flowers, tulle, and sparkle. Spandex and patent leather are also popular when styling Barbiecore (just look at some of the Kardashian fits) and then there's the more understated but still decidedly Barbie looks like the hot pink mini dress and chunky boots or platform mules. Some celebs are just dipping their toe in with even more of a subtle nod by taking colours like black, white, or even yellow and Barbie-ing them up with a hit of pink.
Barbiecore is unlikely to fade anytime soon
The persona of Barbie has been criticized over the years and despite recent attempts at increasing diversity and representation within the doll's brand it still faces some backlash. But since the Barbiecore aesthetic is built on nostalgia and joy, a dynamite combination, the interest in the doll problematic or not, is unlikely to wane anytime soon. Fashion loves to play around with hyper-femininity and privilege, and Barbie embodies both of those things (she has social and financial mobility jumping from job to job and beach house to private jet).
TikTok, which is the primary driver of many of these "microtrends" (a term used to describe the "core" aesthetics) has created outfit inspo videos that demonstrate that women can identify with more than one aesthetic like Barbiecore and street style or even a completely opposing style like edgy. It also creates spaces that show women who haven't been historically represented can still participate in these trends. There are videos dedicated to how Black girls can dress in the Barbiecore trend.
Gen Z is reclaiming the nostalgia of past generations and righting its wrongs in the process. So while their goal may not align with what the fashion designers are doing, the result is the same.
Like her or not Barbie is a cultural icon (and I don't use that word lightly) and will continue to influence pop culture in phases. It's a Barbie world and we're just living in it.
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