About two years ago I was invited up to Mattel’s Barbie headquarters to style and design my own special Barbies. (Click here if you need a refresher!) For some of you, this may just be about dressing a doll. For me, it was a 360 on my ultimate fashion experience: Barbie was, by all definitions, my first styling client. As a child, I experimented with her, dressing and redressing her, unleashing all of my creative angst on the little plastic woman. In the end, she was the best client I could have: Never dissatisfied and chicly opinionated—she looked great in everything and in the end, I learned a lot from her.
A few weeks ago, I was invited back to those same Mattel headquarters in honor of their big, upcoming “See What Happens” event taking place at Lincoln Center tomorrow night as part of New York Fashion Week. This time, my inspiration was different. Knee deep in producing ELLE’s annual fashion issue, I found myself intrigued and inspired by the statement styles of some of my all-time favorite musical artists. Musicians have that special magical quality to me; they’re one breed that knows how to consistently and constantly transform and evolve their image in a way that always works. In essence, that’s also Barbie to me: The Queen of Transformation.
Who didn’t love Madonna writhing away in a wedding dress at the MTV awards in the 80s? Or her Givenchy couture Roman-esque looks this year at the Super Bowl? Or even the new eye-catching cartoon statement get-ups of ladies like Nicki Minaj, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and Rihanna? These ladies can transform. Unfortunately, not everyone has the opportunity to personally style my favorite miniature fashion icon, but no fear, there’s still a chance to enter into her pink fantasy world—and model her looks on yourself.
Tomorrow night, Barbie fans will be transported inside Barbie’s world and into her endless wardrobe through an unforgettable live experience at the David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center. With the help of augmented-reality mirrors, the experience will allow guests to play with Barbie’s fashions and even try them on—from couture to casual to career—using real-life clothing assembled from the Albright Fashion Library. Call it Barbie’s Dream Closet come to life.
If you can’t make the experience, you can still enter her pink closet and dress up in all her famous duds by logging onto BarbieWOW, the brand’s first global digital hub it allows fans to dress up in their favorite Barbie duds from the past 50 years via webcam. So test it out and exercise your best styling talents like I did so many years ago. In the meantime, here are my newly designed Barbies, above, inspired by the world of music. See if you can guess the inspiration and let me know what you think! In fact, Tweet me a picture of your best Barbie interpretation—@MrJoeZee—modeled on yourself. I can’t wait to see the results!