This Summer’s Forecast: Pink, With a 100 Percent Chance of Barbie

With the premiere date of Greta Gerwig’s highly anticipated film drawing near, Barbie-mania has come for everything from architecture to high-low fashion and, before the summer’s end, merch spinoffs.

A still from the upcoming 'Barbie' movie. Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Greta Gerwig’s Barbie movie may be slated for release on July 21, but its grip on the culture has held firm for well over a year now. Take Valentino’s fuschia and magenta–tinged Spring/Summer 2022 collection, which was instantly dubbed “Barbiecore” by the fashion glitterati when it debuted this past spring. Since then, pink has remained a key piece of the fashion lexicon. For those who can’t don bejeweled Versace bodysuits (see: Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour) and sheer Valentino couture (à la Florence Pugh), a Mattel-sanctioned Gap collab launched last week.

Since its advent in 1962, the doll’s Dreamhouse has proved itself to be as captivating—or more—than Barbie’s preponderance of pink party-wear. “She owned her first Dreamhouse in 1962, before women could open their own bank accounts,” Kim Culmone, Mattel’s senior vice president and global head of design for Barbie, says of the fervor that accompanied the initial Dreamhouse.

Barbie's Dreamhouse in the forthcoming Greta Gerwig-directed film. Credit: Jaap Buitendijk for Warner Bros. Pictures

Culmone attributes Barbie’s enduring appeal to the constant evolution of her style, though the nostalgia craze overtaking pop culture certainly doesn’t hurt. More than a decade later, photos of Jonathan Adler’s life-size interpretation of the Malibu Dreamhouse still circulate in the media. More recently, this past September, upstart paint brand Backdrop launched a Barbie Dreamhouse paint collection followed by an architectural survey of the Dreamhouse’s legacy by Pin-Up, marking the 60th anniversary of the doll–size domicile.

To bring Barbie’s Palm Springs abode to life for the film, Gerwig tapped production designer Sarah Greenwood and set decorator Katie Spencer. The duo mined inspiration from Slim Aarons photography and the work of architect Richard Neutra to create the sprawling midcentury-inspired set, which features a spiraling three-story slide that leads to a kidney-shaped pool and toy-box wardrobe displays. “I wanted to capture what was so ridiculously fun about the Dreamhouses,” Gerwig recently told AD. “Why walk down stairs when you can slide into your pool? Why trudge up stairs when you take an elevator that matches your dress?”

“Barbie Dreamhouse: An Architectural Survey.”

As collabs go, there’s something in the pipeline for everyone. In addition to the Gap collection, outdoorsy types can look forward to film merch in the form of the retro-inspired hot pink and highlighter yellow skates Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling don as Barbie and Ken in the film’s new trailer. Those among us with a penchant for real estate–infused reality TV can tune into HGTV’s forthcoming Barbie Dreamhouse Challenge, or play the latest season of Selling Sunset to see the poreless, designer-clad cast teeter around garish mansions and pay each other the ultimate compliment: “You look like Barbie!”

With a recession and debt ceiling ordeal looming, Mattel’s Richard Dickson—the president, CEO, and the architect of Barbie’s current cool cachet—sees another reason for her popularity. “The world needs us, they need more fun and levity,” he told Business of Fashion. “Barbie represents the potential for that.”

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