JTake a look at Instagram right now and you’ll soon realize we’re all Barbie girls living in a Barbie world. Bright pink dresses. Fuchsia accessories in someone’s living room. A nice pair of pale pink roller skates. As the name suggests, Barbiecore is all about channeling all things pink, in keeping with the traditional aesthetic of the original Mattel doll, launched in 1959.
Examples include these viral on-set images from Greta Gerwig’s upcoming film Barbie film – which stars Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling as Barbie and Ken – the collaborations between Barbie and Zara and Balmain, and the myriad hot pink items currently on sale at luxury brands, such as Jacquemus, Balenciaga , Loewe and Valentino. The latter’s recent couture show was even awash in shadows.
None of this is surprising, however, with trend forecasting firm WGSN predicting the rise of Barbiecore in May 2020. That’s when it announced the color of 2022 would be “Orchid Flower.” “, which is – you guessed it – a very Barbie-like, bright pink described by the company as a “saturated magenta tone”.
“The reason this color is booming right now (and why we predicted it) is because it has an energizing quality,” says Sara Maggioni, womenswear manager at WGSN. “It’s fun, daring [and] has a familiarity that isn’t unattainable like other vibrant shades. Think of it as a progression from millennial pink, that dusky shade of pink that dominated the internet — and just about every Pinterest feed in existence — for most of 2016.” color”, adds Maggioni.
She is part of the current trend towards the so-called dopaminergic dressing, that is to say, wanting to reflect a more joyful and optimistic mood through her post-lockdown clothes. In many ways, Barbiecore is one of many fashion trends that subverts the neutral palettes we sported when we were all stuck at home for months.
But Barbiecore isn’t just about adopting a specific shade. It’s also a particular mood, one that’s about autonomy and confidence and can be channeled through what WGSN calls a “more carefree aesthetic.” “Think bodycon silhouettes, miniskirts, crop tops, statement platforms, other fun, dopamine-boosting colors and prints,” says Maggioni. “A lot of these items have been bubbling around for a while, driven primarily by the consumer’s desire to want to dress up, get out there, and relive life.”
Given Barbie’s 1950s heritage, the rise of Barbiecore is also tied to fashion’s obsession with nostalgia – something that’s become particularly relevant this year thanks to the resurgence of Y2K styles we’ve seen. this season. “It’s a key factor for a demographic that lived through those times and is currently seeking solace in that familiarity,” Maggioni says, “but also among a new demographic that is romanticizing the past.” Even if this past is one that they have not experienced themselves.
That’s why so many Barbiecore looks we’ve seen worn by celebrities – think Bella Hadid and Zendaya – have incorporated elements of Y2K culture, whether it’s the “girl power” attitude of Bratz dolls noughties or movies like Revenge of a Blonde and clueless. In recent weeks, it’s also led some fashion critics to wonder what the rise of Barbiecore says about feminism.
Embracing Barbiecore taps into something deeper about women’s perceptions of their bodies and sexuality, and how they change. “For young women, it’s about turning the male gaze on its head,” says Maggioni. “Many people who sport the trend see it as a way to reclaim the ‘bimbo’ aesthetic that was once synonymous with Barbie, and to challenge what it traditionally means, showing [that] intellect and sexy clothes can go hand in hand.
It’s also worth noting that Barbie herself has undergone a feminist — and more inclusive — makeover in recent years. A far cry from the white, blonde-haired, and impossibly thin but busty body type that dominated previous incarnations of Barbie, today’s dolls come in a wide range of body shapes, hair colors, and styles. ethnicities.
In 2019, Mattel launched a line of “gender inclusive” dolls that included dolls with physical differences – one has a prosthetic limb and another comes with a wheelchair. Meanwhile, the brand’s new “Inspirational Women” series has proven its commitment to honoring women from all walks of life, with dolls inspired by everyone from Rosa Parks and Maya Angelou to English primatologist Dr Jane Goodall.
“Traditionally, Barbie is like a superheroine who embodies the extremes of pink, feminine femininity and adult glamour,” says Rebecca Arnold, lecturer in the history of clothing and textiles at the Courtauld Institute of Art. “But it’s also highly adaptable, and Mattel has continually reinvented it since its inception in 1959 to connect with contemporary ideals and attitudes.”
Clearly, Barbiecore is much more than meets the eye. Yes, it’s about celebrating a happy color that is, in many ways, hyper-feminized. But it is also about overturning society’s expectations and reclaiming stereotypes of femininity. Just as feminists can wear makeup, they can also wear hot pink. And anyone else can do it.