When the Barbie doll first made its debut in 1959, it sported a chic chevron swimsuit with a simple black and white color scheme, accentuated by cherry-red lipstick and golden hoops. It was only in the following decades that Barbie’s signature color, hot pink, truly took hold.
According to Kim Culmone, Senior Vice President and Global Head of Design for Barbie and Fashion Dolls at Mattel, the full-on pink persona emerged with the 1977 Superstar Barbie, flaunting a pink satin gown and sparkly boa that would become her visual calling card. Subsequently, Mattel cemented Barbie’s pink identity by featuring her in pink packaging, and in 2008, they partnered with Pantone to officially define her iconic shade as Pantone 21C.
Fast-forward to 2023, and Barbie has become more than just a doll; she’s a brand, a fashion icon, and an influential cultural force. Thanks to the Greta Gerwig-helmed movie, Barbie fever has taken over, with Barbie-themed fashion, collaborations, and even pink-hued lifestyles gaining immense popularity.
The rise of Barbiecore in the fashion world owes much to trends like Valentino Pink and the Y2K revival. Celebrities embraced Pierpaolo Piccioli’s all-pink collection on red carpets, while TikTok discussions centered around reclaiming hyper-femininity and embracing bimbo culture and “coquette” style, setting the stage for Barbiecore’s resurgence.
The release of the Barbie movie further intensified the trend, with Barbie-inspired looks going viral, and a multitude of collaborations featuring pink-colored products flooding the market. However, with the film’s premiere, questions arise about the longevity of Barbiecore in the fashion realm.
Fashion Director Rickie De Sole predicts an evolution in color trends, with red tones taking over from the reigning pink. And as Margot Robbie donned a ruby red corset dress for the Barbie premiere after-party, it hints at this impending shift.
Despite possible changes in color trends, Laurie Pressman from the Pantone Color Institute highlights the enduring power of pink, thanks to the emotional attachment generations have with Barbie. Barbiecore transcends mere color trends; it represents a larger cultural movement embracing femininity, making it unlikely to fade away quickly.
Kim Culmone emphasizes that Barbiecore is not solely about pink but celebrates the nostalgic joy and adventurous spirit of Barbie, empowering individuals to embrace hyper-femininity in their own way.
So while pink might loosen its grip on the fashion world in the coming months, the fascination with Barbie, the Barbiecore movement, and Greta Gerwig’s fictional Barbie world will persist, embodying a timeless expression of feminine empowerment and nostalgia.