Jul 25

Inside Barbie's Barbieland Wardrobe

by Nona Dimitrova

“Before I started working on the film, I hadn’t realised Greta [Gerwig]’s point that Barbie was revolutionary because it was the first time that girls started playing with somebody who had agency and did things, rather than a baby.”

– Jacqueline Durran, Costume Designer for Barbie

With the Barbie film ✨finally✨ being out in cinemas, we thought it would be the best time to do a little deep dive into some of the processes and decision making that went into creating the Barbie movie wardrobe. In the words of Ryan Gosling (Ken), himself, “There’s a meme out right now that says ‘the costume designer for Barbie has a free pass to heaven,’ and I agree.”

Jacqueline Durran was the phenomenal costume designer for Barbie, who had previously worked with Greta Gerwig on designing the costumes for her 2019 iteration of Little Women. Her design credits also include The Batman (2022), Beauty and the Beast (2017) and Anna Karenina (2012), among others.


Inherently, Barbie is really interlinked with fashion, because how you play with her is by dressing her; clothes are her form of self expression. What made Barbie quite different is that unlike usual characters, her motivation to dress doesn’t quite come from within. No, not in a superficial way, rather Barbie is practical. She is always dressed perfectly for the job or task at hand.

Margot Robbie (Barbie / Producer) herself loved that idea, noting that one of the most appealing aspects of getting a Barbie doll is that all of her clothes, accessories and matching pieces come in the box. Referring to one of the first ensembles of the movie, Margot refers to the “Perfect Day” look, which, of course, had a matching beach look using the same fabric.

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© Warner Bros. Pictures

Margot also mentions that something they talked about extensively in regards to the Barbies’ looks was what made them feel empowered and free, noting that nobody is meant to feel self-conscious in Barbieland; it would never occur to Barbie that being in a bikini is something to feel ashamed about. She feels great. Every day is great.


Jacqueline says in an interview that “obviously pink is going to play a big part in [Barbie],” and her and her team tested different shades of pinks extensively. Testing it on fabrics, on walls, in all kinds of different ways, to ensure a perfect pink synergy. The team landed on a selection of pinks which would serve to make up Barbie’s environment, working closely with all times to line up the shades and make sure that there was a level of coordinations at any given moment in any given set. In fact, Jacqueline tells Vogue that “all of the costumes from Barbieland fit into roughly 15 colour combinations “.


Pink is imperative, of course, but it’s not everything. Durran says “[pink]’s a very important part of [Barbie’s] wardrobe, but it’s not 100% of her wardrobe”. Both Jacqueline and Margot refer in different interviews to being deeply inspired by the history of Barbie, and old/vintage Barbie dolls served as points of reference.

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© Warner Bros. Pictures

It was actually Greta Gerwig’s perspective on the film (Barbie teaching young girls they could be anything) that inspired Durran to look to the history of Barbie for inspiration, starting with the very first 1959 Barbie doll, which we see a perfect recreation of during the 2001: A Space Odyssey parody scene at the beginning of the film.


© Warner Bros. Pictures

In fact, many of the looks (thrifted, ordered, hand-made, or borrowed from Chanel) had an 80s flare to them, because Greta was instantly drawn to things which resonated with the Barbies she used to play with as a child.

Within the beach scenes (and there are many of those), Malibu Barbie became key. However, Durran opted for inspiration from the 50s and 60s, referencing the “idea of a French Riviera beach in the early 1960s” with combinations of vibrant summertime pastels.


© Warner Bros. Pictures


The marketing posters did not lie to us, he really is “just Ken” (kind of). The idea that Ken is kind of always forgotten– always an afterthought– was reflected in a lot of the costume choices for Ryan Gosling too. Ken often matches Barbie, for example in the dance sequence bit where they don matching gold looks, and definitely changes too, but he has far less options.


© Warner Bros. Pictures

Another vintage reference for Durran was the 1994 Hot Skatin’ Barbie, used as a canvas for the very first paparazzi shots we got of the production last summer. Again, Durran calls Ken a sort of subsidiary of Barbie, so the influence for the costume came from her, and Ken just had his own version.


© Warner Bros. Pictures and Jaap Buitendijk

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