Barbie’s influence in fashion

26 Feb

My mum told me I was 4 years old, when I spent my summer holiday at a sewing course for kids. Actually I was to young to join this course, but because my sister went there ánd I showed a lot of talent, I was allowed to enter.

I started out sewing by hand and I made my first accessories, a pair of mittens, black cotton over the palm of my hand and white faux fur on top. I was so proud. I wish I still had them. After a few weeks I was allowed to sew on a machine, one you had to turn a cart-wheel by hand to make it work. Soon I didn’t want to do anything else, but sit behind a sewing machine….

The course ended with a competition, make an outfit for Barbie. I already liked a bit of drama, so I made an enormous bridal dress for my Barbie and I won. That’s how Barbie became my first muse.

When I decided to write a post about Barbie, I didn’t know which direction to go, because there’s so much written about this phenomenon, but googling pictures of Barbie it became clear to me I had to stick to the high fashion side of Barbie and her influence on fashion.

Winter ’94/’95 Martin Margiela was inspired by doll’s clothes for his collection and suddenly you looked at Barbie and Ken in a whole different way. Margiela’s collection featured well-known classics like a pair of jeans, a cardigan, BB checked shirts and a pea coat, made in human proportions the way they were simplified for dolls. As an accessory he made lager than life army identification dogtag.

Through the years lots of designers and stylists were asked to dress Barbie. I like to stick to the latest designs, like Maison Margiela’s and Gareth Pugh’s tribute to Barbie and Ken at Barbie’s 50th birthday celebration and Comme Des Garçons’ Barbie in floral print. Hermes made her bags, Christian Louboutin shoes and boots, Diana Von Furstenberg a travel outfit and Stephen Jones a hat collection….

Barbie also has a shoe fetish and does love heels. In her shoe collection even a pair of Vivienne Westwood Dragon shoes for Melissa….

I guess a lot of people would love to have some items from Barbie and Ken’s wardrobe, I certainly would! Like a Barbie duffel coat, Brigitte Bardot jeans or her vintage look sweater. And for men a Ken’s t-shirt or cardigan… Maybe H&M could do a ‘Barbie & Ken evergreens’ collection, I am sure it would be an incredible success!

Barbie went through many fashion changes, she started in sixties clothes, wore a lot of haute couture, was dressed by the famous designers, had her disco period, even resort collections and nowadays she dresses in high fashion. In a couple of weeks Barbie will celebrate her 53rd birthday, I know because she’s a year older than me and she still rocks (we both do…)!

Barbie even inspired the famous painter Johannes Vermeer for his ‘girl with a pearl earring’…. ;-D

One Response to “Barbie’s influence in fashion”


  1. Barbie and Fashion: Life in Plastic. Is it Fantastic? - Mindless Mag - 9 August 2021

    […] impressive hanger she was, too, being dressed by many high-profile designers and brands including Comme Des Garcons’, Hermes, Christian Louboutin and Diana Von Furstenberg. Belgian fashon designer Martin Margiela alsohad a particular interest in the plastic princess; […]

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