Take one take a look at Instagram proper now and it received’t be lengthy till the realisation hits you: we’re all Barbie ladies dwelling in a Barbie world. Hot pink frocks. Fuchsia fittings in somebody’s lounge. A lovely pair of pale pink curler skates. As the title could counsel, Barbiecore is about channelling all issues pink, as per the standard aesthetic of the unique Mattel doll, which launched in 1959.
Examples embrace these viral on-set photographs from Greta Gerwig’s upcoming Barbie movie – which stars Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling as Barbie and Ken – the collaborations between Barbie and Zara and Balmain, and the myriad sizzling pink gadgets at present on sale at luxurious manufacturers, corresponding to Jacquemus, Balenciaga, Loewe and Valentino. The latter’s current couture present was even awash with the shade.
None of that is stunning, although, with development forecasting firm WGSN having predicted the rise of Barbiecore in May 2020. That was when it introduced that the color of 2022 can be “Orchid Flower”, which is – you guessed it – a really Barbie-like, shiny pink described by the corporate as a “saturated magenta tone”.
“The reason why this colour is thriving right now (and why we predicted it) is because it has an energising quality,” explains Sara Maggioni, head of womenswear at WGSN. “It’s fun, bold [and] has a familiarity to it that isn’t inaccessible like other vibrant shades.” Think of it as a development from millennial pink, that dusky shade of rose that dominated the web – and nearly each Pinterest feed in existence – for the higher a part of 2016. “That might have adjusted the consumer’s eye to this colour level,” provides Maggioni.
It kinds half of the present shift in direction of so-called dopamine dressing, ie desirous to mirror a happier and extra upbeat temper by means of one’s clothes post-lockdown. In some ways, Barbiecore is one among many style developments that subverts the impartial palettes we sported when all of us had been caught at house for months on finish.
But Barbiecore isn’t nearly embracing a selected shade. It’s additionally a couple of explicit temper, one that’s about autonomy and confidence and may be channelled by way of what WGSN dubs a “sassier aesthetic”. “Think bodycon silhouettes, miniskirts, cropped tops, statement platforms, other fun and dopamine-boosting colours and prints,” says Maggioni. “Many of these items have been bubbling under for a while, predominantly driven by the consumer’s desire for wanting to dress up and go out and live life again.”
Given Barbie’s Nineteen Fifties heritage, the rise of Barbiecore can also be about style’s obsession with nostalgia – one thing that has turn into particularly pertinent this 12 months due to the resurgence of Y2K kinds we’ve seen this season. “It’s a key factor for a demographic who lived through those times and are currently seeking solace in that familiarity,” Maggioni says, “but also among a new demographic that romanticises the past.” Even if that previous is one they’ve not skilled themselves.
Barbie is sort of a feminine superhero who embodies the extremes of pink, girlie femininity and a grown-up glamour
This is why so most of the Barbiecore seems to be we’ve seen worn by celebrities – assume Bella Hadid and Zendaya – have integrated components of Y2K tradition, whether or not it’s the “girl power” angle of noughties Bratz dolls, or movies like Legally Blonde and Clueless. In current weeks, it’s additionally led some style critics to ask what the rise of Barbiecore says about feminism.
Embracing Barbiecore faucets into one thing deeper about girls’s perceptions of their our bodies and their sexuality, and the way they’re altering. “For young women, it’s about flipping the male gaze on its head,” explains Maggioni. “Many of the people sporting the trend see it as a way of reclaiming the ‘bimbo aesthetic’ that was once synonymous with Barbie, and challenging what it traditionally means, showing [that] intellect and sexy clothing can go hand in hand.”
It’s value noting, too, that Barbie itself has undergone a feminist – and extra inclusive – makeover lately. Far from the white, blonde-haired and impossibly thin-but-big-breasted physique sort that dominated Barbie’s earlier incarnations, at present’s dolls are available in a variety of physique shapes, hair colors and ethnicities.
Margot Robbie as Barbie and Ryan Gosling as Ken in ‘Barbie’
In 2019, Mattel launched a line of “gender inclusive” dolls that included dolls with bodily variations – one has a prosthetic limb and one other comes with a wheelchair. Meanwhile, the model’s newly launched “inspiring women” collection has confirmed its dedication to honouring girls from all walks of life, with dolls modelled after everybody from Rosa Parks and Maya Angelou to English primatologist Dr Jane Goodall.
“Traditionally, Barbie is like a female superhero who embodies the extremes of pink, girlie femininity and a grown-up glamour,” says Rebecca Arnold, senior lecturer within the historical past of costume and textiles on the Courtauld Institute of Art. “But she is also highly adaptable, and Mattel has continually reimagined her since she was first created in 1959 to connect to contemporary ideals and attitudes.”
Evidently, Barbiecore is about far more than meets the attention. Yes, it’s about celebrating a joyous color that’s, in some ways, hyper-feminised. But it’s additionally about subverting societal expectations and reclaiming stereotypes of femininity. Just as feminists can put on make-up, they will additionally put on sizzling pink. And so can anybody else.