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 residing in a Barbie world. Scorching pink frocks. Fuchsia fittings in somebody’s lounge. A lovely pair of pale pink curler skates. Because the identify might recommend, Barbiecore is about channelling all issues pink, as per the normal aesthetic of the unique Mattel doll, which launched in 1959.
Examples embody these viral on-set images from Greta Gerwig’s upcoming Barbie film – which stars Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling as Barbie and Ken – the collaborations between Barbie and Zara and Balmain, and the myriad sizzling pink objects at the moment on sale at luxurious manufacturers, similar to Jacquemus, Balenciaga, Loewe and Valentino. The latter’s latest couture present was even awash with the shade.
None of that is shocking, although, with development forecasting firm WGSN having predicted the rise of Barbiecore in Could 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 explanation why this color is flourishing proper now (and why we predicted it) is as a result of it has an energising high quality,” explains Sara Maggioni, head of womenswear at WGSN. “It’s enjoyable, daring [and] has a familiarity to it that isn’t inaccessible like different vibrant shades.” Consider 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. “Which may have adjusted the buyer’s eye to this color degree,” provides Maggioni.
It varieties half of the present shift in the direction of so-called dopamine dressing, ie desirous to mirror a happier and extra upbeat temper by way of one’s clothes post-lockdown. In some ways, Barbiecore is considered one of many style tendencies that subverts the impartial palettes we sported when all of us had been caught at house for months on finish.
However Barbiecore isn’t nearly embracing a selected shade. It’s additionally a couple of explicit temper, one that’s about autonomy and confidence and could be channelled by way of what WGSN dubs a “sassier aesthetic”. “Suppose bodycon silhouettes, miniskirts, cropped tops, assertion platforms, different enjoyable and dopamine-boosting colors and prints,” says Maggioni. “A lot of these things have been effervescent beneath for some time, predominantly pushed by the buyer’s need for wanting to decorate up and exit and stay life once more.”
Given Barbie’s Fifties heritage, the rise of Barbiecore can be about style’s obsession with nostalgia – one thing that has turn into particularly pertinent this 12 months because of the resurgence of Y2K kinds we’ve seen this season. “It’s a key issue for a demographic who lived by way of these occasions and are at the moment in search of solace in that familiarity,” Maggioni says, “but additionally amongst a brand new demographic that romanticises the previous.” Even when that previous is one they’ve not skilled themselves.
For this reason so most of the Barbiecore appears to be like we’ve seen worn by celebrities – suppose Bella Hadid and Zendaya – have integrated parts of Y2K tradition, whether or not it’s the “lady energy” angle of noughties Bratz dolls, or movies like Legally Blonde and Clueless. In latest 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 younger girls, it’s about flipping the male gaze on its head,” explains Maggioni. “Lots of the folks sporting the development see it as a means of reclaiming the ‘bimbo aesthetic’ that was as soon as synonymous with Barbie, and difficult what it historically means, displaying [that] mind and horny clothes can go hand in hand.”
It’s price noting, too, that Barbie itself has undergone a feminist – and extra inclusive – makeover in recent times. Removed from the white, blonde-haired and impossibly thin-but-big-breasted physique kind that dominated Barbie’s earlier incarnations, right this moment’s dolls are available a variety of physique shapes, hair colors and ethnicities.
In 2019, Mattel launched a line of “gender inclusive” dolls that included dolls with bodily differences – one has a prosthetic limb and one other comes with a wheelchair. In the meantime, the model’s newly launched “inspiring girls” sequence 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.
“Historically, Barbie is sort of a feminine 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 Artwork. “However she can be extremely adaptable, and Mattel has frequently reimagined her since she was first created in 1959 to hook up with modern beliefs and attitudes.”
Evidently, Barbiecore is about way more than meets the attention. Sure, it’s about celebrating a joyous color that’s, in some ways, hyper-feminised. Nevertheless it’s additionally about subverting societal expectations and reclaiming stereotypes of femininity. Simply as feminists can put on make-up, they will additionally put on sizzling pink. And so can anybody else.