Since July 21, the chronically online have thought about little else than Mattel’s famous doll and her live-action movie, Barbie. The hilarious memes, the terrible hot takes, the $65 Dream Car popcorn bucket, the stunning cast, and the impossible-to-get tickets — but most of all, fans are buzzing about the high-glam, all-pink-everything fashion. And that’s all thanks to costume designer extraordinaire Jacqueline Durran.
Some may know her as a two-time Oscar winner, but even those unfamiliar with the awards show circuit will recognize her work. Durran can be credited for the iconic green slip dress Keira Knightley wore in Atonement, all of Kristen Stewart’s outfits as Princess Diana in Spencer, and, most recently, the entire wardrobe in Greta Gerwig’s Barbie.
Though Durran previously worked with Gerwig on Little Women, a project that earned her second Oscar, the designer was intimidated by the concept of Barbie, initially. “There’s so many fashion moments with Barbie that the idea of trying to work out how to approach such a big and well-loved subject was a little bit overwhelming,” Durran tells Bustle. To tackle the “daunting” plastic universe, she decided to immerse herself in the doll’s rich, 64-year history — and it paid off.
Each ensemble was painstakingly referenced. “The block party, for instance, we made all those costumes because we wanted to delve right into the Mattel history of white and gold disco costumes,” she shares. (According to Durran, this scene has the most fashion Easter eggs.)
The potency of Durran’s vision, however, was even more noticeable off-screen in the glaring rise of Barbiecore, the pink-on-pink aesthetic that nearly every fashion girl has been rocking recently. To help fans lean into Barbiemania, Durran launched the Barbiecore Dream Shop, her curation of 250 shoppable vintage pieces, via e-tailer thredUP.
Ahead, the Barbiecore mastermind discusses her vintage collab — plus, insider details on all things Barbie (read: why Barbie reaches for oversized accessories and the one outfit she worried Ryan Gosling might reject).
Margot Robbie looks fantastic in the film. What was your favorite look she wore?
In many ways, my favorite is the pink gingham dress. Because Barbie’s wardrobe comes in a pack. So you have the dress, the shoes, the bag, the jewelry, things for the hair, and then you can also switch it round. So I wanted the audience to have the feeling of the pack and having all the options. That’s how you play with Barbie, you kind of change her from the dress to the swimsuit. I think that’s the most fully-formed Barbie costume in the movie.
What was it like working with Ryan Gosling on Ken’s costumes?
It was quite funny, because he was busy at the beginning of the project so we started having conversations with him later in the prep period. I’d started putting together looks that I thought may be Ken, like an all-in-one jumpsuit or other things that Ken had worn in the history of Ken. And I was really nervous that Ryan may not want to wear it, that it might be too extreme.
But when Greta started talking to Ryan about the kinds of things that Ryan wanted to wear, it was actually much more extreme. Ryan was really ready to wear anything from the Ken back catalog, so that was really fun, and it just meant that we had the opportunity to really play around and try things out. He was up for any suggestion.
Is there an outfit that he had strong feelings about?
He was the person that brought up the Ken underwear. He said, really at the last minute, “Do you think that I could have underwear that says ‘Ken’?” And then we had to really scramble to get it made.
What was your favorite fashion Easter egg from the film?
The best scene for spotting original Barbie costumes is the block party. In that scene, we delved deep into Barbie, into the Barbie back catalog. So I think fans should really look closely [at] that scene and see what they can see.
Could you speak more about your Barbiecore Dream Shop project with thredUP?
I’m so excited about the thredUP possibilities, because there’s so much variety in clothes that have already been made that you can just play with it. You won’t have the same look as everyone else. I think fans should choose a bright-colored dress. There’s lots and lots of them that I chose. You can wear it with flats, you can wear it with heels, you can accessorize it with different colors.
Do you have tips for channeling Barbiecore?
The thing about the Barbie look — the thing that makes it Barbiecore — is that you’ve done a complete look, that you’ve thought about everything from shoes to jewelry. Everything. The more “extra” the look is, the more Barbie it will be.
Start with a dress and then build on it. Think about it as a full outfit. Almost imagine looking at the clothes you’re about to put on and if they’re in a pack of Barbie clothes, think of all the pieces that would be there. And combine color. It doesn’t have to all be pink. It can definitely be other pop colors. The big thing is, don’t put any black in there. It’s all color. Color on color on color, and it’s accessory on accessory on accessory.
What about in terms of accessorizing?
It’s about coordinating. Barbie’s accessories, particularly the jewelry, are a little bit outsized, they’re a bit bigger. For the movie, the reason we did that was because Barbie accessories are outsized. Children can’t play with something that’s actually proportionately the same size as it would be on a human, because it’s too small. So the necklaces and things are a little bit bigger, and that feeds into the Barbie look.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.