The Inspiration Behind Margot Robbie’s Outfits for the Barbie Movie Press Tour and Premiere

The Inspiration behind Margot Robbie's Outfits for the Barbie Movie Press Tour and Premiere

She is blond, loves pink, many of us grew up with her and currently, she is the talk of town: It is Barbie-Month! Greta Gerwig’s Barbie Movie will be released on July 20th and as a Barbie fan and collector myself, I have been closely following the press tour leading up to the movie premiere in Los Angeles on July 10th.

Naturally, one of the most exciting parts of it was the outfits and the references to Barbie dolls from the past. Margot Robbie’s, who plays Barbie in the movie, has been all over the press and social media. According to Jacqueline Durran, the costume designer of the Barbie Movie, Greta Gerwig, the director, loves Barbie and used to play with the dolls. Hence, many of the Barbie doll models referred to in the movie are from the late eighties and nineties when Gerwig was a young girl. Nevertheless, they also wanted to display Barbie’s development and we can see older doll models as well. Similarly, the outfits for the press tour, chosen by stylist Andrew Mukamal, also focus on the same time period.

The looks of the press tour and premiere were designed by major fashion houses – ranging from Chanel, to Versace, Valentino, Schiaparelli, Moschino, Bottega Veneta, Balmain, Hervé Lerger and Prada. It is a mix of custom-made new designs, many took inspiration from Barbie dolls in the past and vintage items. Unexpectedly, pink was the dominant colour, nevertheless, there were some pleasant surprises as well.

Keep reading, or watch my YouTube-video here:

Let’s take a closer look:

Schiaparelli

I would like to start with the Los Angeles look first, because I think it was one of the best ones of the press tour.

Margot Robbie Premiere Barbie Movie Los Angeles Schiaparelli Daniel Rosberry Solo in the Spotlight Barbie 1960
Margot Robbie in Schiaparelli at the Barbie Movie premiere in Los Angeles. (Picture courtesy of the official Instagram account of Margot Robbie)

Margot Robbie wore Schiaparelli by Daniel Roseberry and the design is based on the doll “Solo in the Spotlight” from 1960. Like Barbie, Robbie wore a diamond choker and held a sheer blush pink handkerchief.

This Barbie stands for the first designs of the dolls which were clearly influenced by Hollywood, it stands for a certain type of woman: the blonde sirene, singing at one of the infamous nightclubs which are so typical of the Hollywood productions of that time. It was inspired by a red velvet gown by Oleg Cassini for Marilyn Monroe, which she wore at a dinner of the Association of Foreign Press Correspondents, and a design by Balenciaga from 1951.

It is a beautiful interpretation of the doll. Even though it looks almost exactly like the doll’s dress, there is something modern about it and it does not look cheap or too costumey – which it could. Roseberry did a great job here and I appreciated that in contrast to the press tour, this look was not in pink. Naturally, Barbie is associated with pink, especially when we look at the late eighties and nineties. However, a thorough examination of both the Barbie archives and my personal collection showed that there is a multitude of dolls which defy the widely recognized association with vibrant pink. Roseberry gave us a classy Barbie. It is one of the earliest dolls but not as known as the black and white bathing costume. It is just fabulous!

Vivienne Westwood

At the London movie premiere, Robbie wore a custom-made Vivienne Westwood gown in blush pink.

Margot Robbie London Movie Premiere Barbie Movie Vivienne Westwood
Margot Robbie in custom Vivienne Westwood. (Picture courtesy of the Official Instagram account of Andrew Mukamal)

It was based on the “Enchanted Evening”-doll from 1960. The doll’s gown was designed as if she would pick up the Academy Award in it. Even though the doll was sold from 1960 until 1963, the style of the dress took inspiration from the early 1950s rather than the early 1960s. This stands for Mattel’s strategy for holding on to the established fashion movements until the mid-1960s, when Barbie’s outfits finally reflected the contemporary styles. When looking at the “Enchanted Evening”-Barbie, our first thought is probably the infamous pictures of actress Grace Kelly in beautiful 1950s-gowns.

If I had to choose between the Schiaparelli- and the Westwood-gown, I would opt for the former. In my opinion, the pink gown looks more like a costume while the Schiaparelli-version could be a contemporary design.

Margot Robbie Enchanted Evening 1964 Vivienne Westwood
Margot Robbie with “Ken”, Ryan Gosling, at the London movie premiere. (Picture courtesy of the Instagram Account Glam Fendi)

I preferred the gown without the cape, as the neckline was quite flattering and it also was clearer that it was a Vivienne Westwood-design. With the cape, I could not tell.

I spotted a second Vivienne Westwood look which I liked much more than the gown:

Margot Robbie Barbie Press Tour and Premieres Gexi Spencer Jacket Vivienne Westwood
Margot Robbie in a Vivienne Westwood-ensemble with the Gexi Spencer Jacket. Picture courtesy of the Official Instagram Account of Andrew Mukamal.

I like the colour combination – somehow it reminds me of the Peaches ‘N Cream Barbie Doll from 1984. The jacket is called “Gexi Spencer” and comes in a signature shape. Andreas Kronthaler, the late husband of Vivienne Westwood and creative director, is Austrian and clearly referenced the cut of the “Trachten”. These are the local traditional garments and the jacket could be one which is worn over the Dirndl-dress.

Chanel

This is probably one of my favourite looks of the press tour, as it is not too literal. Margot Robbie wears vintage Chanel from 1996, even the luggage is vintage.

This outfit was worn by Claudia Schiffer on the runway. It comes as no surprise that stylist Andrew Mukamal and Margot Robbie opted for Chanel as one of the first looks of the press tour: The actress has been an ambassador for the Maison since 2018. Robbie was seen in another Chanel ensemble during the tour which deviated from the pink colour scheme.

Nevertheless, yellow is not a random choice at all which becomes clear with Durran’s explanation of the colour scheme of the movie in Vogue:

Think vibrant trios of perfect summertime pastels: “lavender, bright blue, light blue; green, orange, beige; orange, blue, pink; two pinks and a yellow…”

Jacqueline Durran, stylist of the Barbie Movie

Versace

Other big vintage moments were by Versace – which I expect to see a lot in the movie as well. The skirt and sweater combo was an iconic look from the 1994 campaign.

But an even bigger reference was this vintage Versace dress:

Why was this dress such a great choice? It is certainly not a coincidence that none other than Claudia Schiffer wore this dress at an after party in 1996. Similar to Barbie, Schiffer with her blond hair is a symbol of the beauty ideal of the late eighties and nineties.

This vintage dress is very similar to a contemporary design of Versace for the press tour:

Versace created this set referencing the “Day to Night” doll from 1985.

In my opinion, the idea is lovely, because this Barbie stands for the Yuppie-movement in the 1980s and stands for confident career women. Unfortunately, the design fell short: it is a bit too literal and it also does not look as classy as the original outfit of the doll.

On a TV presentation, Robbie wore another Versace ensemble with the signature medusa incorporated into the straps of her corset top.

Moschino

Seeing Margot Robbie in Moschino comes as no big surpirse. Jeremy Scott, the creative director of Moschino, designed two Barbie dolls in 2015 and also collaborated with Barbie in a collection in the same year – long before “Barbie-core” came around. Furthermore, Moschino designed a Barbie doll for the Met Gala with the topic “Camp” in 2019.

Robbie wore this pink Moschino outfit at the premiere in South Korea. It had a “twin” in a different shade of pink on the runway for the Spring Summer Ready-to-Wear Collection.

It is based on the “Sparkling Pink”-Barbie doll from 1964.

I preferred this floral Moschino dress from 2019 which was paired with high-heeled peeptoes which often come with Barbie’s outfits. It is not the expected pink, but it is a nod to the early Barbie dolls and I think Margot Robbie looks stunning in it.

Margot Robbie Barbie Moschino blush pink
Margot Robbie in a blush pink ensemble by Moschino. (Picture courtesy of the Official Instagram account of Andrew Mukamal)

I found this third Moschino ensemble in blush pink.

Hervé Leger

Robbie wore a black and white striped mini dress by Hervé Leger which makes her look like the very first Barbie doll from 1959.

I really liked it – it was simple and classy and not too literal, but we still get the hint. Robbie wears the black and white bathing costume in the movie.

Pucci

Margot Robbie Barbie Movie Mexico Press Tour Pucci Dress Chanel Bag Totally Hair Barbie 1991
Margot Robbie in a Pucci dress referencing the Totally Hair Barbie (1991) during the press tour in Mexico. (Picture courtesy of the official Instagram account of Margot Robbie)

One of the most popular dolls of the nineties was the idea behind Robbie’s outfit for a press event in Mexico: Totally Hair Barbie from 1991. This was Mattel’s best selling Barbie of all times and it was called “A $100 Million Success!” in the annual report of the following year.

Robbie wore a Pucci dress paired with a pink Chanel bag and earrings and matching pumps. I am a big fan of Pucci and the design is a nice adaptation of this pattern which Barbie often wore in the nineties (it was also part of a lot of Barbie active-wear items such as skiing or rollerblading). According to Carol Spencer, one of the main designers for Barbie, the Totally Hair Barbie’s dress was indeed inspired by Pucci. Nevertheless, while I understand why Mukamal chose the big CC-earrings (either because they are as big as Barbie’s or to incorporate Chanel due to Robbie’s involvement with the brand; or both), I find the logos too much for the outfit. Furthermore, the colour scheme of the doll’s outfit with more intense colours worked better than Robbie’s interpretation, which I found a bit too pale.

Balmain

Margot Robbie Press Tour Balmain Earring Magic Barbie 1991 Mexico
Margot Robbie with co-star Ryan Gosling at a press event in Mexico.

Balmain took inspiration from the “Earring Magic” doll from 1991. (I am sharing a secret here: I love this Barbie, I always wanted to have her when I was a girl but for some reason, she has never made it into my collection (as yet…))

Unfortunately, this Balmain-look disappointed. Again, I found it too literal and it looked a bit cheap. Robbie wore a two-piece Balmain ensemble made from pink tweed on stage later at the same press event in Mexico.

Valentino

At a party in Los Angeles, Robbie wore a pink polka dot outfit by Pierpaolo Piccioli for Valentino. He was inspired a design worn by Karen Mulder for the Valentino 1993 Spring Summer collection.

Another source of inspiration was “Look 1” from the “Pink & Fabulous” collection from 2015.

Robbie also wore Valentino at the Kelly Clarkson Show.

I would say the Valentino looks were OK – but probably nothing which we will remember for a long time.

Prada

At CinemaCon in Las Vegas, Robbie was dressed a pink gingham ensemble with a matching Y2K-style bag, all designed by Prada. I personally am not a big fan of the look – the embroidery on the crop top is a bit confusing. However, I understand why it was chosen for the event: It is not only a nod to the gingham outfits Robbie wears as Barbie in the movie but also the new Barbie doll which can be purchased at Mattel.

Bottega Veneta

One of the most popular pictures so far has been Robbie next to a pink convertible in a Bottega Veneta ensemble.

A second Bottega Veneta look – but a more casual interpretation. It is OK, a travel outfit with pink accents, nothing too special in my opinion. I preferred the vintage Chanel travel ensemble.

Dilara Findikoglu

Margot Robbie Barbie Movie Press Tour London Premiere Dilara Findikoglu
Margot Robbie in London in Dilara Findikoglu (Picture courtesy of the Official Instagram account of Andrew Mukamal)

Robbie changed from her blush pink evening gown into another outfit in London: a mini dress in bright red by Turkish-born Central Saint Martins graduate Dilara Findikoglu. She also dressed Robbie’s co-star Hari Nef.

Conclusion

The press tour and premiere of the Barbie Movie are already a sneak peek into what we will see in the movie. Given the personal relationship of Greta Gerwig and Barbie, there will be many references to dolls which we may have played with as children (if you are also a late 80s/early 90s child). But the stylists went further and also showed the development of Barbie since her “birth” in 1959. Naturally, this movie is a big marketing campaign for Mattel who has already released some new Barbie dolls and other products leading up to the movie.

Many of the outfits during the press tour were pink, but we also got a glimpse into the overall colour concept of the movie – pink as the dominant colour but orchestrated with pastel green, blue or yellow. I personally enjoyed the vintage items we have seen so far and I hope there will be many more in the movie. Furthermore, Schiaparelli’s interpretation of Barbie shows a facet of the doll which does not correspond to her mainstream image – maybe this is a hint of what is going to come in the movie? We will see next week!


Last updated on 15 July 2013. Original article published on 12 July 2023.

See Also
Monday Postcard 265 Barbie Movie Marketing Strategy and Hype


Sources

Pinterest, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar

Marco Tosa, Barbie: tausend Gesichter einer Kultfigur, München 1997.

Mudec Milano, Barbie – The Icon, Exhibition Catalogue, Milan 2015.

Carol Spencer, Dressing Barbie, New York 2019. (Kindle Version)

Robin Gerber: Barbie and Ruth: The Story of the World’s Most Famous Doll and the Woman Who Created Her, New York 2009.

Barbie Sammlerkatalog

Picture Sources Title Image

Pinterest, Official Instagram account of Margot Robbie, Instagram account Glamfendi


Disclaimer

This article is based on the personal, views, experiences and research of Elisabeth Steiger, no fees were received by the organisations and people mentioned above.


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