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PLASTIC FANTASTIC:
BALMAIN x BARBIE

Pink, pink and more pink from Barbie and Balmain.

Pop culture’s wild for dolls right now. In the last year, we’ve seen collaborations between Bratz and GCDS, Blumarine and Hello Kitty and bespoke figurines from Cardi B and Playboi Carti, tapping into the kidcore scene. Nostalgia is king right now, a fizzy neon tonic for twenty-twenties ennui and a chance to remember the good old days of pink wafers, tamagotchis and those weird aliens that got a little too cosy in your fridge.

Balmain, pioneers of the New Look (the Dior-era style, not the Weymouth-based high street chain), have now joined in on the craze. They’ve collaborated with Mattel’s iconic doll for a new genderless, fifty-piece collection, updating classic silhouettes for Ken’s bae and her adoring fans. Pink, naturally, reigns supreme, but flows lushly from soft, blushed tones into a full tub of Minaj Hot, brushed on liberally.

The headline piece? A reworked version of a dress from the house’s 2012 Faberge-inspired collection, reproduced in pink and studded with Swarovski. Elsewhere, dress-down options like hoodies and sweats make themselves known via a reworking of the Balmain logo, stylised in the trademark Barbie font for a casual, Y2K-spiked mood. Meanwhile, translucent carriers lacquered with Balmain’s monogram enlarge Barbie’s bags to full size, ready to be filled with custom dolls (also Serena Williams commented, so they’re already iconic).

Like anything these days, they come served with a side dish of NFTs. Three are up for grabs, featuring Barbie and Ken avatars wearing miniaturized versions of the collection, minted in kitsch-as-you-like pink. They’ll be auctioned off on mintNFT, and you’ll also receive the physical version of the outfit, from a maxi bow dress to a pink pillow bag.

Barbie CEO Richard Dickson sees the collaboration as a match as heavenly as Barbie and Ken. “As a fashion house committed to innovation in unexpected and joyous ways, Balmain under Olivier Rousteing’s creative direction, is the perfect partner to translate the iconography that is unique to Barbie into a modern iteration of digital art and physical fashion,” he said in a statement. Rousteing concurs: “It’s not only the dream of a designer, it’s a dream of a kid, you know? That I can create a collection with Barbie today shows how the world has changed, and how good it feels to be free with yourself without being judged.” What others can we collectively dream up? We’d be pretty keen to see Balenciaga x Betty Spaghetti…

The Balmain x Barbie collection drops online on January 13. Bidding has begun for the NFT avatars.

Words by Kyle MacNeill

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