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How Costume Designer Jacqueline Durran Brought A Nostalgic Flair To New Designs In ‘Barbie’

“There are some replications in things and specific references, where it’s almost like Easter eggs for the fans, but they’re not really the same,” says costume designer Jacqueline Durran. Rather than creating large scale versions of existing outfits, Durran says she used them as inspiration for entirely new designs. “The main thing I wanted to happen is that I wanted Barbie fans to go to the movie and recognize Barbie as the Barbie they loved.” Below, Durran gives insight into the how her designs were conceived to give Barbie the perfect outfit for every occasion and creating a unique look for Ken.

Hot Skatin’ Barbie

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  • “The idea was that Barbie and Ken arrive in Venice and they look really weird, and the thing is, there’s not much you could do in Venice that would make you stand out and look really weird.”

  • Barbie’s outfit is based on the Hot Skatin’ Barbie doll, but Ken’s outfit was created to match Barbie and wasn’t based on any existing Ken dolls.

  • The neon colors were added to make the pair stand out and the pattern was based on the doll, but created by textile artists.

  • The color palette was kept “harmonious” at the beginning to replicate the perfection of Barbie Land, before Ken brought patriarchal influences back with him from the real world.

Western Barbie

“Barbie is always perfectly dressed for whatever she does. So, what would Barbie think would make them fit in America? They think country, so a Western Barbie outfit is going to fit in. It is all following a logic of a set of rules we invented early on.”

Disco Barbie

“The Barbies at the block party are all in different versions of white and gold disco costumes and reinventions from the ’80s. But all of the Kens are just in a jumpsuit because no one [in Barbie Land] really minds what Ken wears to the party. He just has to match Barbie.”

Fur Coat Ken

“Greta [Gerwig] showed me a photo of Sylvester Stallone in a fur coat—he did a bunch of adverts in the ’80s—and it was such a great style statement. I thought, if Ryan [Gosling]’s willing to wear the fur coat, then we can use that as the starting point for Ken’s style.”


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