Barbie can be anything from the girl next door to a swimsuit model, but one thing’s for certain, she’ll be always be stylish.
Therefore, it’s no real surprise to see the icon doll wearing glamorous gowns and draped in luxury.
And nothing says luxury fashion more than Balmain.
With creative director Olivier Rousteing at the realm of the French fashion house, the collection is streetstyle ready, yet uber-glamourous.
The Balmain x Barbie collection is made up of ready-to-wear, accessories, and a trio of exclusive NFTs (a non-fungible token is a unique and non-interchangeable unit of data stored on a blockchain, a form of digital ledger), marking Barbie’s first venture into the virtual art world.
Rousteing has created a genderless collection for adults, inspired by Barbie and Ken, that speaks not only to their tastes but also to Rousteing’s childhood memories.
“It’s not only the dream of a designer, it’s the dream of a kid, you know?” he says, adding that as a child he was told not to play with the dolls.
“That I can create a collection with Barbie today shows how the world has changed, and how good it feels to be free with yourself, without being judged.”
Rousteing calls this collection, which is is mostly unisex, “a fun collection with a deep, deep message”.
“You can be Ken and borrow Barbie’s clothes and Barbie can borrow Ken’s clothes,” Rousteing says, adding, “At the end of the day, you can create a society that is about freedom and not about stereotypes.”
He took Balmain’s Labyrinth monogram designed by Pierre Balmain in the 1970s, the shoulder pads, the oversized gold buttons and incorporated them with Barbie’s visual world to create 50 items of clothing and accessories.
Of course the collection is a wash of pink. He created several tones of Barbie’s signature bubblegum shade as well as soft blush hues, bold neon shades and the dusty pink he’s known for.
One of his favourites from the collection is the dress he made for his Fabergé-inspired collection in the autumn of 2012.
“I reproduced it exactly in pink, with all the straps and padding and Swarovskis,” he says. On the opposite end of the spectrum of formality is his other favourite item: a sweatshirt with the Balmain logo in Barbie font.
For Mattel chief executive and president, Richard Dickson, the unique pairing has the potential to simultaneously kickstart new chapters for both the fashion and toy industries.
“As a fashion house committed to innovation in unexpected and joyous ways, Balmain under Olivier Rousteing’s creative direction, is the perfect partner to translate the iconography that is unique to Barbie into a modern iteration of digital art and physical fashion,” said Dickson.
The NFTs – three one-of-a-kind pieces featuring Barbie and Ken avatars styled in Balmain – will be available via Mattel Creations by way of a mintNFT auction. Each NFT is paired with a set of Barbie-sized Balmain items.
But Balmain isn’t the only luxury fashion brand to dress the dream doll.
In November 2021, renowned South African designer Gert-Johan Coetzee launched his “Barbie Loves Gert” collection.
Coetzee’s distinctly South African collection showed striking pink from the Pedi culture, complemented by geometric patterns inspired by the Zulu culture.
“Barbie has collaborated with many designers, but I really wanted the African interpretation to stand out.
“When people look at the collaboration from around the world, they must really feel inspired by the diversity of Africa, the richness of our culture, and the beauty of our men and women,” said Coetzee.
As part of the “Barbie Loves Gert” collection, his one-of-a-kind finale piece is a life-size doll’s outfit with intricate detail and over 3 000 genuine rhinestone crystals and pearls applied to the fabric to create the replica for Barbie.