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The Long, Complicated, and Very Pink History of Barbiecore

CEO Tinh Phung
Barbiecore: A Fashion Trend That's Here to Stay Barbie is not just a doll. She's a fashion icon, a symbol of empowerment, and the inspiration behind a thriving fashion trend known as "Barbiecore." This trend,...

Barbiecore: A Fashion Trend That's Here to Stay

Barbie is not just a doll. She's a fashion icon, a symbol of empowerment, and the inspiration behind a thriving fashion trend known as "Barbiecore." This trend, characterized by all-pink outfits and a feminine aesthetic, has taken the world by storm, making its mark on red carpets, social media feeds, and even high-fashion runways. From celebrities like Lizzo and Florence Pugh to renowned couture brand Valentino, everyone seems to be embracing the Barbiecore style.

But what exactly is Barbiecore? And why has it become so popular in recent years? Let's dive into the long and fascinating history of Barbiecore to uncover its origins and enduring appeal.

Barbiecore: A Convergence of Cultural Moments

Barbiecore owes its rise to the convergence of various cultural moments. One significant factor is the upcoming release of the highly anticipated Barbie movie, starring Margot Robbie as the iconic doll. Set to hit theaters in July, the film has created a buzz and generated excitement within the fashion community.

Additionally, the resurgence of early-aughts fashion and its vibrant and sweet styles has played a crucial role in popularizing Barbiecore. According to Lyst's 2022 "Year in Fashion" report, Barbiecore was the top trend of the past year, reaching its peak in June 2022. The release of pictures featuring Margot Robbie dressed in an all-hot pink Western outfit as Barbie sparked a 416% increase in searches for pink clothing and ignited a viral sensation on TikTok.

Barbiecore Through the Ages

Barbiecore has been a mainstay in both celebrity and high fashion for the past two decades, resurfacing every few years in different ways. Darnell Jamall Lisby, a fashion historian and assistant curator of fashion at the Cleveland Museum of Art, affirms that Barbiecore has become an integral part of 21st-century fashion, cycling in and out of vogue since the early 2000s.

Barbie's enduring influence on fashion is closely tied to Ruth Handler, the visionary woman behind the creation of the Barbie doll. Tanya Lee Stone, the author of "The Good, The Bad, and the Barbie: The History of a Doll and Her Impact on Us," explains that Handler wanted to provide little girls with a three-dimensional model that could embody their dreams and aspirations.

Barbie's fashion-forward clothes allowed girls to explore different careers and lifestyles while igniting their imaginations. From astronaut to doctor to fashion model, Barbie represented the idea that women have choices beyond traditional roles.

Barbiecore and Fashion's Love Affair

Barbiecore's popularity in the fashion world stems from Barbie's profound influence on the industry throughout history. Barbie's creator, Ruth Handler, understood the power of marketing, targeting children directly with advertising campaigns that made Barbie an integral part of pop culture.

Beyond marketing, Barbie's association with the color pink has become a defining characteristic of the doll. In the 70s, Mattel intentionally transitioned Barbie's branding to focus on young girls, using pink as the dominant color. Today, Barbie is synonymous with the vibrant and captivating shade of pink known as "Barbie pink" (Pantone 219 C).

However, Barbie has not been without controversy. Critiques about body image and beauty ideals have been leveled against the doll. Yet, these controversies have also contributed to Barbie's lasting impact and relevance. As Tanya Lee Stone notes, Barbie's ability to spark conversations about gender, race, and size is part of what makes her so enduring.

The Rise of Barbiecore

The Barbiecore trend as we know it emerged with the rise of celebrity fashion figures in the early 2000s, such as Paris Hilton, Nicole Richie, and Britney Spears. Their hyper-feminine, often pink or glittery outfits influenced mainstream fashion, as seen in films like "Clueless," "Legally Blonde," and "Mean Girls."

Pop stars like Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj also played a significant role in promoting the Barbiecore aesthetic. Ariana Grande's feminine style, which traces back to Barbie, and Nicki Minaj's alter ego, "the Harajuku Barbie," characterized by pink wigs and Barbie-themed lyrics, further propelled the trend's popularity.

Barbiecore's influence even extends to the world of high fashion. The famous all-pink Valentino fashion show in 2022, featuring a hot pink Pantone shade, and Jeremy Scott's Moschino Spring/Summer 2015 collection, which prominently featured Barbie's iconography, are notable examples of Barbie's impact on the runways.

The Allure of Barbiecore

Emily Huggard, an assistant professor of fashion communication at Parsons School of Design, believes that Barbiecore's appeal lies in its playfulness. In a post-COVID world, people are gravitating toward trends that bring joy and escapism. Barbiecore, with its bright colors and whimsical flair, offers a sense of lightness and simplicity that many are craving.

Barbiecore's recent surge in popularity can also be attributed to the upcoming Barbie movie release. As the excitement builds, people are embracing all-pink outfits, particularly hot pink, to pay homage to Margot Robbie's Barbie portrayal.

Moreover, Barbiecore's accessibility makes it a trend that anyone can participate in. Hot pink, the hallmark of Barbiecore, is a bold color available at various price points. Unlike exclusive luxury fashion trends, Barbiecore invites everyone to join in, creating a sense of inclusivity and virality on platforms like TikTok.

Ultimately, Barbiecore's enduring appeal lies in Barbie's ability to inspire dialogue and provoke thoughts on various societal issues. As Darnell Jamall Lisby suggests, Barbiecore not only embraces hyperfemininity but also serves as a vehicle for subverting gender norms and expressing individual identities through fashion.

In a world overshadowed by darkness, Barbiecore offers a glimpse of lightheartedness and sparkly fantasy. It's a reminder that fashion has the power to ignite imagination and bring joy, even during the most challenging times.

So, why not embrace your inner Barbie and dive into the world of Barbiecore? It's a trend that celebrates individuality, creativity, and the playful side of fashion. Let the pink reign supreme!