Barbie has assumed many personalities over the years (she's been everyone from Karl Lagerfeld to Katniss Everdeen to Andy Warhol), but her latest look is the stuff of girlhood dreams. In a partnership done between Mattel and Oscar de la Renta arrives a "here comes the Barbie" moment, in which an archival spring 2014 wedding dress design (an Oscar de la Renta original) was shrunk down in scale to fit Barbie.
"Oscar de la Renta was the very first designer to ever collaborate with Barbie, which is amazing," says Robert Best, the senior design director at Barbie. "That was in 1985 and then again in 1998 (pictured below). Oscar is always a name that comes up on the red carpet, a name that people love. The (Barbie) team reached out to the Oscar team, and they were very interested—the idea to do a bride came from them."
But the team at Mattel is quick to point out that no, Barbie isn't getting married, nor is this a tribute to the late Oscar de la Renta, who passed away in 2014. So why wasn't a bridal design by Peter Copping (the creative director who's currently at the helm of the luxury house) chosen instead? "When we started the dialogue, there was a lot of change, and Oscar was still alive, and we went with the archives," Best says, openly. "The changing of the guard with Peter hadn't happened yet. In the end, we were thrilled with our choice, and Peter loves it too. The dress represents everything everyone loves about Oscar."
The dress in question is an exquisite strapless reembroidered lace trumpet gown with an extraordinary pale blue cloud of tulle as its train. For Best, it so accurately encapsulates the style ethos of Oscar de la Renta as the brand—it's classic, but with a modern-day edge. But scaling it down for Barbie came with its own challenges, like finding a substitute fabric for the dress, since the original lace was too heavy, or staying true to the rich, baroque details of the bridal jewelry on a micro scale.
"Well, we have a shrinking machine," Best jokes, when asked about the process. "It comes down to translating details, to make sure you're capturing all the main details." And how does he feel about the final look?
"I've worked here for 20 years, and I work on a lot of dolls, but this one took my breath away," he says. "It's easy to be jaded and be like, 'oh another doll,' but this one looks spectacular. I'm really proud of what the team has achieved."
And the packaging, too, is worth noting. Barbie comes encased in a blue (the same blue that's signature to Oscar de la Renta) laser-cut lace sleeve that wraps around a pristine white box that opens up to a backdrop of white roses. It's a truly stunning collector's item. The Oscar de la Renta Barbie is available for $175 starting today at thebarbiecollection.com and oscardelarenta.com.