Hot Pink, Hot Trend: How Barbiecore Connects Worlds

Nogah Senecky
July 17, 2023

Image credit: Jaap Buitendijk

The Barbiecore aesthetic has been around for years, but recently took the world by storm as the Barbie movie hit theaters. Unsurprisingly, fashion plays a central role in the film, with Oscar-winning costume designer Jacqueline Durran leading the way. 

This Barbie-inspired trend is unapologetically pink, feminine, flamboyant, and fun. It often features looks that follow specific Barbie models and is all about matching accessories, impossible heels, fluffy textures, and glossy fabrics. Some playful pieces represent certain decades, mainly the 80s and 90s, while others are more contemporary and even edgy. Leading fashion designers, pop-culture influencers, and fashionistas everywhere embrace this trend and the careless, girly vibe it celebrates. 

But beyond its pretty pink outfits, the movie’s fashion bridges the gap between seemingly contrasting worlds in a profound way. Let’s dive into how the movie connects these worlds and captivates audiences.

Barbie & the Real World

The movie revolves around the notion of Barbie stepping out into the real world, with live-action footage in visibly artificial settings. The fashion in the movie does a similar thing, which helps strengthen the feeling that Barbie is real and increase the buzz around the film. 

In the physical world, Mattel currently markets special Fashion packs with three movie looks for Barbie collectors and fans; Zara and Gap created a limited edition collection inspired by Barbie; and Margot Robbie’s spectacular premiere looks make headlines with each one inspired by the iconic doll’s fashion in and outside the movie. Some of the star’s red carpet outfits were dedicated to specific Barbies, like ‘Totally Hair’ Barbie and the very first doll designs.

Then & Now

One of the movie’s primary tasks, and perhaps challenges, was protecting the iconic Barbie brand while staying relevant to today’s world. The fashion showcased in the film cleverly incorporates nostalgic elements from different eras, evoking cherished childhood memories. Simultaneously, it maintains a modern vibe to balance the needs of both longtime fans and new audiences. 

Diversity plays a crucial role in the film, addressing the criticism Barbie has faced in the past by showcasing a mix of traditional and more diverse characters. This level of inclusivity matches the efforts made by the Barbie brand in recent years to broaden its product line and represent a wider variety of sizes and styles.

Fun & Serious

The movie features fun, sparkly, and very pink fashion. Given that and the general focus on Barbie’s exterior look, calling it a feminist movie might be a bit controversial. And yet, this is a movie written, directed, and led by women, made for a primarily female audience. In today’s world, where less than 30% of the top 250 grossing films employ female directors and cinematographers, this is, unfortunately, a big deal. The movie’s tagline promotes the feminist outlook by reminding us that “She’s everything. He’s just Ken.” 

The fashion in the movie includes a spacesuit with Barbie as an astronaut, and Margot Robbie’s Vogue photoshoot featured other career Barbies, such as President Barbie, reminding women they can do anything they want. In the movie, Barbie’s choice between the real world and her comfort zone is represented by flat shoes vs. her signature heels. 

The Barbie movie and the Barbiecore trend successfully connect worlds in an intelligent and thought-provoking way. By blending elements of the “real world” with fantasy, incorporating nostalgia while embracing diversity, and combining fun with serious undertones, the movie resonates with a wide range of audiences. It reminds us that Barbie is a true leader and fashion icon with the power to evolve, adapt, and inspire.