Unless you live under a rock, you’ve heard of the upcomingBarbie movie. Even if you do live under a rock, you’ve heard of the upcoming Barbie movie.
The first-ever, live-action adaptation of Mattel, Inc.’s iconic doll, Greta Gerwig’s upcoming movie is expected to be a satirical take on the conventional interpretation of Barbie. Barbie’s seemingly perfect utopia falls apart and she is castaway into the real world where she discovers the ugly truth about her life in plastic.
The movie has sparked a fashion mania identified by hot pink, kitschy prints, glitter and vibrant bursts of colour, including bubblegum, raspberry, cerulean, and sunshine yellow. According to the Lyst 2022 Year in Fashion review, ever since Warner Bros. released paparazzi shots of Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling dolled up in their peak Barbiecore ensemble, “searches for all things pink skyrocketed 416%.” Barbiecore emerged as the top trend of the year, as the internet geared up with their fly-est fits and bombastic memes.
The core colour
Barbiecore is all about championing vibrant hues, unapologetically embracing Barbie’s signature hot pink and adapting it to your everyday life. The trend’s nostalgic tone is a reminder of the doll’s popularity since its launch in 1959.
Although at an all-time high now, Barbiecore rose to prominence in the early aughts, with OG influencers like Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, and Lindsay Lohan becoming the flagbearers of the trend with their long, poker-straight, heavily bleached blonde hair. Teen coming-of-age dramas like Clueless, Legally Blonde, and Mean Girls, featuring dainty blondes heavily costumed in Barbiecore-esque pink attires, added to the trend’s popularity.
Given its strong affiliation with hyper-femininity, the style quickly became synonymous with ‘Bimbocore,’ with the The New York Post and Daily Mail calling it “giddy, and dim-witted”. This notion is further reiterated in Aqua’s popular 1997 pop song ‘I’m a Barbie Girl’, the lyrics of which are: “I’m a blonde bimbo girl in a fantasy world”.
People of colour, diverse bodies, and male counterparts could not fathom fitting into the narrative that was deemed outdated and shallow.
Cut to 2023, Instagram is drowning in a plethora of Barbiecore reels with influencers like Shraddha Gurung, Orhan Awatramani aka Orry and Alanna Panday endorsing the trend.
The current wave subverts the cultural definition of girly. It is fun, flirty and seductive. Hyper-femininity is now celebrated as a reclamation of a new era of pink — one that is not limited to the Eurocentric archetype of appearance, gender, and class. It is as no longer layered with negative connotations of bimbo, docile, submissive, and oppressed. Instead, the colour being used as a catalyst for independence, expression, inclusivity, sexuality, assertiveness and charisma (termed ‘rizz’).
“The new Barbiecore wave is inclusive. It plays on having fun with your style, rather than trying to be perceived as perfect,” says actor and creative director Ayesha Kanga. She adds, “Styles like that stick since they aren’t forcing women, or men, into boxes. It is empowering. Every couple of generations we backtrack to gauge if fashion or expression is working for us. This time we’ve played with power, and the colour of power is pink... It’s like the feminine eternal.”
Barbie in pop culture
In 2015, Moshino dedicated its Spring/Summer fashion show to Barbie, coming out as one of the first vocal high-fashion advocates of Barbiecore with an array of hot pink, campy designs.
In the later aughts, pop-culture icons like Ariana Grande and Nicky Minaj rose to fame with their eccentric wardrobes, paying homage to Barbie. Minaj’s hit 2018 single was titled ‘Barbie Dreams,’ and her Instagram name reads ‘Barbie’. For the movie, Minaj collaborated with Ice Spice for a spin on the classic track ‘Barbie Girl’. This time the lyrics read: “I’m a Barbie girl, pink Barbie dreamhouse. Yellin’ out, we ain’t sellin’ out. We got money, but we ain’t lendin’ out. We got bars, but we ain’t bailin’ out.”
The marketing teams at Greta Gerwig’s Barbie, mindful about not limiting themselves to partnering with conventionally feminine labels, have teamed up with brands like Hotwheels, Vans, xBox, Burger King .
Hand-in-hand with the movie, Pierpaolo Piccioli’s 2022-2023 all-pink Valentino ‘Pink PP’ collection, which debuted its own statement hot pink Pantone shade, quickly unfolded to be the most outsized rendition of Barbiecore. Famously, actors like Florence Pugh, Anne Hathway, and Ariana DeBose sported head-to-toe pink attires, sparking internet frenzy.
Indian designers Shivan and Naresh explain, “The trend also highlights the underlying notion of looking plastic-perfect — almost as if you are confined to a doll in a box...” They add that the Barbiecore trend in India is open for subversive interpretation. “A magenta or a hot pink is today the new black as all women already own something pink in their collections, be it a sari, a dress or even something as small as lipstick. It evokes a sense of Y2K style and nostalgia!”
Reversing gender roles
Rejecting the notion that pink is exclusively oriented with females, Barbiecore is feminist, and challenges outdated gender norms, costume designer Lovedeep Gulyani says, “As a millennial, growing up in the 90s and not necessarily having access to any kind of dolls myself, I would play with Barbies my older sisters owned. It was never looked at as acceptable.”
He says that the craze for Barbie’s perfect figure has been extremely problematic, promoting unrealistic the beauty and body standards. . “Now, the audience is more accepting and aware,” He says, adding “Barbiecore, as a feeling, is accepted by all gender. Valentino gave us hot pink, Barbie gave us a lifestyle which is fun preppy and absolutely wild. ”
Pink it up
With the Barbiecore aesthetic saturating the mainstream, if you too want to be a part of the troupe, here’s what you need: frilly silhouettes, statement pants, lacy trims, striped prints, platform pumps (the brighter the better), 80’s accessories and colour — lots of colour. Think pink!