Barbiecore is taking the fashion racks by storm, all thanks to award-winning costume designer Jacqueline Durran and the highly anticipated “Barbie” film.
Step aside, millennial pink. Bright, saturated bubblegum pink—the color most closely associated with Mattel Barbie dolls— is the hot new color du jour. From celebrities to Instagrammers to fashion houses, it’s beginning to look like we’re living in a Barbie world. And while you might not be familiar with her name, Oscar-winning costume designer Jacqueline Durran is part of the reason why.
The British costume designer—who won two Academy Awards for Best Costume Design for the period films “Little Women” (2019) and “Anna Karenina” (2012), and has worked on such notable films as “Spencer,” “The Batman,” “Atonement,” “Pride & Prejudice,” “Macbeth,” “Darkest Hour,” and “Beauty and the Beast”—recently teamed up with director Greta Gerwig to oversee the costumes for her upcoming film, Warner Bros.’ “Barbie.”
The highly anticipated film, starring Margot Robbie in the role she was born to play and Ryan Gosling as her love interest Ken, might at first glance seem like a departure for Durran. But a closer look reveals a thread of female empowerment that connects it to many of the other films she’s worked on.
Subverting expectations, “Barbie” puts a feminist spin on the story, with a plot that sees Barbie expelled from Barbieland for being a less-than-perfect-looking doll and setting off for the human world to find true happiness— like an Elle Woods who proves she’s more than what people think they see.
Although the film doesn’t come out until July, Durran’s costumes have been making a splash ever since Robbie and Gosling were seen rocking hot pink neon spandex outfits while rollerblading along Venice Beach, complete with yellow rollerblades and matching kneepads.
Gerwig, who co-wrote the “Barbie” script with her partner, “Frances Ha” and “Mistress America” director Noah Baumbach, previously worked with Durran on “Little Women.” In true Hollywood “it’s all who you know” fashion, Durran got that job because she had worked on a film for director Mike Leigh, someone Gerwig knew and admired. Leigh had hired Durran for her very first costume designer role on the 2002 British film “All or Nothing.”
Durran, who’s dreamt up such iconic movie gowns as the sultry green dress Keira Knightley wore in “Atonement” and the fairy-tale yellow ballgown Emma Watson waltzed in as Belle in “Beauty and the Beast,” attended The Royal College of Art in London. After graduating, she began sourcing and selling vintage clothing at the Camden and Portobello Road Markets. The expertise she acquired inspired her to cold call Angels Costumes, one of London’s most famous costume rental houses. After being able to accurately date a variety of vintage costume pieces, Durran was offered a coveted costume designer job and began assisting with dressing actors and extras.
Known for her collaborative storytelling approach, Durran draws her design inspiration from the script, the actors, and the director. “The way I view my job is as tying my story with the story that the director wants to tell,” Durran said recently in an interview with Kristen Stewart for her work on “Spencer,” for which she won a Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Costume Design.
Set to tell a new story about an iconic female character and her evolution, Durran has already captured the world’s attention and collective nostalgia with her gloriously kitschy vision of Barbie brought to life. We’ve only seen a sneak peek so far, but with “Lady Bird” and “Little Women” director Gerwig steering the ship, all signs point to what could be a feminist tour de force.
“It was really a great relationship,” Durran said about working with Gerwig following her Oscar win. “I really loved working with her, and I find her inspirational.”