‘Barbie’ Costume Designer on Crafting Ken’s White ‘Fur’ Coat and Partnering With Thrift-Shopping Site ThredUp

‘Barbie’ Costume Designer on Crafting Ken’s White ‘Fur’ Coat and Partnering With Thrift-Shopping Site ThredUp

July 21, 2023

Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie” is a phenomenon that costume designer Jacqueline Durran is still trying to wrap her head around. “I had no idea it would be this big,” she says ahead of the film’s opening weekend.

Among the viral sensations started by the film which stars Margot Robbie is #BarbieCore, a fashion homage to the Mattel doll that is very feminine and very pink. The hotter the hue, the better.

As part of that phenomenon, the Oscar-winning Durran has partnered with ThredUp to style #Barbiecore fans using only thrift items and to provide consumers with a more sustainable way to participate in the summer’s pink trend. “I love vintage and I’ve always loved it. Even if a small proportion of the people that want to experience and play and be creative with #Barbiecore can go to ThredUp and buy vintage pieces to create their unique look then that would be a great thing,” says Durran.

While the trend of #BarbieCore is about everything pink, Durran says, “Pink gives you a quick fast track to #BarbieCore, but essentially I think it’s about combining colors and matching concrete outfits. It’s about dressing up and having fun. That’s my take.” She continues, “That’s why I selected different colors such a pink, yellow and blue. People should play around with combinations.”

Kate Spade, Trina Turk, Tommy Hilfiger, and J.Crew are among the brands featured on the site across various price points.

As for the film itself, Durran does indeed incorporate vintage items into Gosling and Robbie’s wardrobe.

“The Kens were the biggest block of people who wore vintage because all of their sportswear on the beach was sourced,” Durran says. She sourced from America, but there still wasn’t enough to dress the cast that also featured Simu Liu, Ncuti Gatwa and Kingsley Ben-Adir as Kens. “So, we had to make more in London and replicate old styles.”

For the wider Barbieland world, she referenced as far back as 1969 to build the looks. “I bought a vintage jacket, and used the shape of the jacket to be the pink jumpsuits that the Barbies wear later in the film,” Durran explains.

The white “fur” coat Gosling wears is in the scene when a glitch in the seemingly perfect world that is Barbieland causes Barbie to have human feelings and existential thoughts, which result in Ken and the army of Kens taking over and turning it into Ken-Dom, where patriarchy reigns.

“That coat is fake,” Durran stresses. “But, if you look closely at the inner lining, we did line it with a horse print,” she says nodding to Ken’s fascination for horses after he visits California.

Durran says when she and Gerwig were figuring out what this not-so-perfect version of Ken would look like, she had seen a photo of Arnold Schwarzenegger modeling a fur coat and that became the main inspiration for the Ken-dom Ken look. “That image is in the movie, and it was such a fantastic image of exuberance and fashion of someone like him wearing a huge mink coat in the ’80s that it just had to become part of the Ken look,” says Durran. “Ryan was totally up for the look. He was ready to go as far as Greta wanted,” she adds.

As for how much pink was too much, Durran says, “I did check in at the beginning to ask, ‘Does it always have to be pink?’ I didn’t know whether there was going to be a rule from someone that Barbie always had to be in pink, but everyone said no and there was no push that everything to be pink.”

Durran doesn’t quite know how many shades or hues of pink she used, deferring to production designer Sarah Greenwood. “That was led by Sarah who gave me a little flip book of pinks of all the different shades that were in different spaces. So, each time I was doing a costume, say the interior of the car, I would make sure that our pink in the car matched the car. If I was doing pink in the house, I’d match the house.” She adds, “All the time we were matching to the environment.”

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