Barbie makes haute hot and couture cool. She is unapologetically all girl. And, did we mention that she’s the most popular fashion doll in the world? But all that fame hasn’t gone to Barbie’s legendary coiffed head. She is still the same fun fashionista she’s always been since she broke into the fashion spotlight in 1959.
So, what exactly does it take to create and maintain this fashion icon that is Barbie? From designers who have graduated from the top fashion schools, to professional makeup artists and cosmetologists, to the world’s most elite couturiers, it takes more than 100 people to create one single Barbie outfit and look.
More than 1 billion fashions and 1 billion pairs of shoes have been produced since 1959 for Barbie® doll and her friends. 105 million yards of fabric have gone into making Barbie® and her friends’ fashions, making Mattel one of the largest apparel manufacturers in the world.
The creation of Barbie’s sensational apparel truly mirrors that of today’s most prestigious fashion houses.
With Barbie as their muse, it’s easy to see why designers graduating from Parsons and FIT, as well as those who’ve worked under names like Isaac Mizrahi, join the Barbie team as real designers.
Like their counterparts in Paris and New York, fashion designers for Barbie sketch new concepts and bring their drawings to life using muslin fabric and Barbie-sized rubber mannequins. After several “fittings,” they work with pattern makers and textilers to finalize their vision.
Each outfit may be altered several times before a final look is sent to hundreds of seamstresses. No room for error! If stitching is off by even 1/16 of an inch, it can be a design miss.
No look is complete without the right accessories. Everything from earrings to shoes are sketched by hand and sculpted in wax to create 3-D models. Once approved by the lead designer accessories are produced and “dressed” on Barbie doll.
Barbie isn’t just another pretty face– she actually has a lot of pretty faces– seven different skin tones to be exact. And, with a team of talented hair stylists and makeup artists, the beauty of Barbie is constantly refined so she’s always picture perfect.
Barbie’s hair comes in seven different shades of blonde, woven together in various combinations to achieve highlights or lowlights. Her legendary locks are rooted with a special sewing machine called a “Dolly” and then professionally trimmed and styled, strand by strand, to create today’s chic-est styles. After her hair is rooted, brushed and styled, Barbie is placed in a customized heating machine to set her hairstyle– much like how a dome hair dryer is used in hair salons.
What’s in her beauty bag?
- Barbie’s hair is styled with hair gel exclusively formulated for her.
- Barbie’s best hair tool is a paintbrush and water, perfect for flyaway hairs for close-up headshots.
- Bad hair day? Even Barbie gets tangled up. A light conditioner and water does the trick to manage her mane.
A true fashionista never leaves her house without makeup and the same goes for the most well-known fashionista of them all. When creating a new Barbie face (a prototype to be put into production), up to 10 fine artists work on Barbie doll’s face using water-based acrylics and tiny sable brushes to paint one of the most widely- recognized faces in the world.
It’s all about blending. Every color used on Barbie doll’s face is applied in thin “washes” so no brush mark is obvious. The process takes up to 3 hours. Although Barbie is known for her vibrant and colorful makeup, brown is still her favorite eye shadow and worn the most frequently. In fact, Barbie has more than 100 different shades of brown in her beauty kit.