Barbie and Ken get a head-to-toe makeover from ESMOD fashion students

·3-min read
Three of the looks designed for Barbie and Ken by ESMOD fashion school students.

The legendary doll has entrusted her new wardrobe to the students of the French fashion school ESMOD, who have shaken off all kinds of constraints to show this pop culture icon in a new light. The looks created by these budding designers will be on display at the Printemps Haussmann department store in Paris from November 16 to 21, before going under the hammer for a good cause.

As part of its 180th anniversary celebrations, the ESMOD fashion school challenged its students to deliver their own interpretation of Barbie and Ken's outfits. No less than 19 dolls were created, shunning certain stereotypes and diktats relating to gender, skin color or body type, and celebrating inclusion and difference -- echoing changes embraced by Barbie, as well as by the fashion industry, in recent years.

Glamour, scars and gender-fluid fashion

No two dolls in the collection are identical, let alone similar in any way. In fact, difference is the watchword of this artistic interpretation. While Barbie rocks a fur coat -- fake, of course -- in a Hollywood style, she also shines in an all-white look adorned with feathers and with slit-open pants revealing her prosthetic leg. She can also be seen wearing a skirt and crop top, showing off her scars with carefree confidence. Ken, on the other hand, is styled with long or short hair, switching effortlessly from a pantsuit to a patchwork shirt to an outfit comprising jeans, T-shirt and jacket finished with intricate lace.

"Since her creation in 1959, Barbie has always reflected fashion and different trends. This year, we are proud to highlight young designers who have done remarkable creative and emotional work to reinvent and enhance the wardrobe of the iconic Barbie and Ken," says Elisabeth Moet, Marketing Director France for Mattel.

Going on show

All the looks will be on display from November 16 to 21 in the Maria Luisa space on the second floor of Printemps Haussmann. Visitors will be able to discover and admire each of these new-generation looks in the magical world of the Parisian department store decked out for the holiday season.

Collectors and fashion fans will then be able to bid on each of the dolls, November 26 to 28, when the creations go under the hammer on the online platform of the Drouot auction house. Proceeds will be donated to Inspiring Girls France, a non-profit working to foster the professional ambitions of young girls and to show them that they have no limits.

In the meantime, November 15 to 19, ESMOD International teams will celebrate the group's 180th anniversary through numerous physical and digital events. The school in the Parisian suburb of Pantin will feature an exhibition dedicated to ESMOD's heritage, for example, while other collaborations -- such as the Barbie project -- are due to be publicly unveiled. The highlight will be the ESMOD International 180th anniversary fashion show, held at Hôtel Potocki in Paris, which will showcase creations from the class of 2021 students graduating across the group's schools. To reach a wider audience, this event will also be livestreamed online.

Christelle Pellissier

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