Yesterday, Wednesday 24 May 2023, US Vogue shared its summer issue’s cover starring Margot Robbie in anticipation for the Barbie movie’s release in July. But did it take ‘life in plastic’ too far? We certainly think so.
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From astronaut Barbie to presidential candidate Barbie, New York-based editor and stylist Gabriella Karefa-Johnson takes readers through some key eras in the doll’s history. Everything from the shoot’s set design to props helped to bring the Australian actress into the world of Mattel’s iconic dress-up doll. Barbiecore really is the trend of the summer.
Karefa-Johnson has managed to successfully transform clothes that don’t immediately scream Barbie, like this Miu Miu knit cardigan taken straight from its recent FW23 collection, into something so on-brand for Barbie that we’re mad we didn’t think of it first. When placed alongside a giant flower pot, it gives the impression that she is in fact doll-sized while also proving that Barbie’s wardrobe isn’t just pink.
It is also a breath of fresh air to see Robbie in something other than Chanel. As cowgirl Barbie, the actress wears Maison Margiela, while the cover shot is Versace. Of course, she still had to wear one Chanel look, which makes an appearance in Robbie’s take on President Barbie—suited and booted in a classic (and of course pink) tweed suit.
The excessive use of Photoshop, however, has been polarising. Some argue that the overt airbrushing is thematic and plays into Robbie’s character in the movie. In other words, Photoshop has been used to make her look plastic rather than correcting minor imperfections. For others, however, the extreme editing on her cover has been more of a (re)touchy subject…
There is a constant discourse surrounding the idealised and unrealistic beauty standards both the fashion and movie industry set. Of course, Robbie is undeniably beautiful and in many ways seems like she was born to play Barbie, but it is worrying to think of the impact these images will have on young women. Barbie is a children’s toy after all.
Everything from her nail beds and her skin texture to her thigh gap has been altered. While we understand the use of Photoshop as a creative tool in this instance, the connotations behind this editorial remain deceitful.
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Compared to the constant stream of Photoshop fails and extreme Kardashian-esque airbrushing that we so often see online, the creative, thematic approach to the digital tool makes a refreshing change—but we can’t help but think Vogue could’ve tackled this editorial differently.
Yes, visually it works, but the over the top recreation of Barbie is a little on the nose. For an alternative approach, Vogue could have looked at the countless instances of the use of plastic in fashion, LOEWE’s Polly Pocket clothes being one example.
From what we know about Gerwig’s take on an American classic, it’s going to defy expectations. The movie’s tagline “She’s everything. He’s just Ken,” implies that despite little being known about the plot, it’s likely to come with a feminist message. The dollification of a real life woman from Vogue somewhat undermines the film’s potential message.
Along with its star-studded cast which includes Ryan Gosling and America Ferrera, we’ve got the popcorn ready for the 21 July release date. The overwhelming use of Photoshop for this Vogue cover may be an exception given the context of Barbie, but it arguably takes away from the moves towards body positivity some parts of the industry have been slowly undertaking.
It’s official—Margot Robbie has been unshackled from her Chanel contract and the internet is going feral with excitement. The Suicide Squad actress has ditched the bizarrely tailored jumpsuits, burned the stiff-looking mini shorts which should’ve been left in the 2000s, and is now leaping towards a far more modern and youthful red carpet look. Following her departure from the French fashion house, netizens everywhere are wondering what’s next for Hollywood’s favourite Aussie it girl.
Celebrity fashion is a perpetual staple in mainstream media. Whether it be tabloids, magazines, online publications or opinions shared on TikTok—it’s a constant cycle that we all pretend to not care about but secretly obsess over. And in the case of Robbie, the second she stepped in front of the cameras at the 2022 Governor Awards in Los Angeles on 19 November in a floor length olive green Bottega Veneta gown, the internet fully lost it.
Since 2018, after signing on to become an ambassador for the brand, Robbie has exclusively worn Chanel looks on the red carpet. While a number of publications, notably Vogue, deemed the actress a “mesmerising 21st century Chanel muse,” others found the luxury fashion house’s vision to be rather restrictive and unreflective of Robbie’s magnetism and personality. In layman’s terms, the partnership made Robbie look a tad boring.
While the iconic brand has served a number of celebrities very well (Penélope Cruz, Keira Knightley, and Lily-Rose Depp, to name a few) there was a resounding feeling among fans that Chanel’s style didn’t quite fit the aura and vibe of everyone’s much-anticipated Barbie girl.
Strangely enough, you don’t have to look very hard to find other celebrities who’ve been unfortunately burnt by the Chanel brush over the years. When Kristen Stewart, the brand’s newly appointed muse for 2023, took to the 2022 Oscars red carpet in those shorts—c’mon we all remember them—Twilight stans swarmed TikTok begging the actress to reconsider her choices.
As resident fashion analyst and TikToker @oldloserinbrooklyn tells us, Stewart has been attached to the Chanel label since 2013—in fact, she was hand-selected by the late creative director Karl Lagerfeld as one of the recognisable faces of the brand before he passed in 2019. As the creator further explains, Chanel’s two-silhouette approach when it comes to Stewart’s red carpet outfits has massively restricted the actress from serving us killer looks.
But back to the Australian actress. Robbie’s stylist for the evening, Kate Young, shared images of the 32-year-old’s look at the Governor Awards and fans flooded Instagram to show their appreciation for the recent style overhaul. One user commented: “Never ever stop dressing her in Bottega!” While another fan of The Wolf of Wall Street star wrote, “Margot Robbie being a Bottega girl makes so much sense.”
TikTok also hosted a fair few videos from netizens praising Robbie’s fashion turnaround. In one video, which at the time of writing has amassed over 135,000 views, images were showcased from the past week where Robbie stepped out in three different equally iconic Bottega Veneta looks.
One fan commented, “the Chanel curse has been broken!” while another chimed in, “her new era is stunning!” Now it seems gen Zers and millennials are collectively speculating if Robbie will dedicate her allegiance to the considerably cooler Italian brand.
Much of Bottega’s revival is accredited to Daniel Lee, creative director from 2018 to 2021, and Matthieu Blazy, the current director. Both men are far younger than Chanel’s presiding executive team and have brought a breath of fresh air to the brand—cementing Bottega Veneta as a favourite among celebrities and fashion insiders alike.