LUXURYCULTURE.COM - Barbie: Fashion Victim


The Barbie phenomenon continues in her 51st year with the Barbie room at the Plaza Athenee Hotel, Paris, a travelling exhibition of rock chick Barbies from the American luxury brand Chrome Hearts, and a dedicated Assouline tome.

When Barbie turned 50 last year, there were tributes galore from the fashion and luxury industries: Karl Lagerfeld-designed Barbies, Barbie-sized trunks from Goyard, and a Barbie installation at the influential concept store Colette were just some of the blonde’s stylish moments. And in her 51st year the phenomenon continues.

Just finished is what was perhaps the ultimate Barbie experience: the Barbie room at Paris’ legendary Plaza Athenee Hotel, part of the Dorchester Collection, which opened on August 6 and closed September 2. Kitted out in all shades of pink, with Barbie-branded furniture and fabrics, there was even a miniature pink laptop beside the twin single beds (Ken was not invited). One night here began at €1,600, though that did include a Barbie gift bag, as well as a connecting suite for mum and dad (the Barbie room was available to under 16s only – kidults were banned).

Still underway is a travelling Barbie exhibition from the American luxury brand Chrome Hearts, which showcases 12 larger than life versions of the iconic doll. After pop-up shows in London, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and New York, the selling show of Barbies (prices range from $18,000 to $25,000 per doll) opens in Tokyo on September 3 before moving to Seoul in October. What makes them so expensive? Standing 39 inches tall, each Barbie is dressed in the label’s classic leatherwear and sterling silver jewelry, with fashion-forward locks by the renowned hair stylist, Orbie – blonde, of course.

There is more Barbie mania to come: published this month is the Barbie book from artisan publisher Assouline. Charting the history of Barbie’s life as a muse and cultural icon, it is illustrated with cleverly orchestrated images of Barbie as she has never been seen before: Barbie styled for an Irving Penn photograph, Barbie the African Queen, and Barbie captured in a Sartorialist-esque street style photograph. It’s the ultimate reference for the many faces of Barbie – and who would Barbie be without her chameleon quality?

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