Fashion / Style

Embracing Our Pink, Retro, and Highly Stylized Fall 2023

Three Extremely Visual, Studiously Directed Films Will Influence Everything You See, Wear, and Possibly Eat This Season

BY // 09.14.23

Throughout director Greta Gerwig’s savvy feminist flick, Barbie, our protagonist longs for her former Slim Aarons-esque reality: wearing a pink gingham swing dress inside her pink multi-level, mid-century modern home, giddily greeting the other chess-playing, poolside-lounging Barbies on her cul-de-sac. In Paint, Owen Wilson plays Carl Nargle, Vermont’s number-one television artist for three decades, who bears a suspicious resemblance to TV art instructor from the mid-’80s, Bob Ross. He spends much of the film driving an orange camper van while sporting the same embroidered button-down, flare jeans, and voluminous ‘do, even as those around him progress to contemporary looks and Uber rides. And the ensemble in Wes Anderson’s Asteroid City gathers in a taffy-colored, linoleum-floored jukebox luncheonette on a studiously undeveloped desert road while studying the nine planets (Pluto still being one of them) and revealing a naive anxiety about aliens and flying saucers.

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Margot Robbie stars in “Barbie.” (“Barbie” images @ 2022 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., courtesy Warner Bros.)

While Barbiecore has cycled in and out of vogue since the career-oriented doll first hit shelves in 1959, today’s sweeping revival signifies a compelling desire to revisit our unburdened youth. For The Washington Post, interior designer Ken Fulk sketched his well-bred and whimsical version of Barbie’s dream house, while Jonathan Adler envisioned more of a Palm Springs abode, complete with his signatures such as a needlepoint pillow (Boss Lady is etched across this one). Architectural Digest ventured on a similar endeavor but instead had AI conceive what architects Frank Lloyd Wright, Zaha Hadid, and Oscar Niemeyer, among other legends, would build for the plastic blonde in heels. Meanwhile, HGTV had their network superstars do the real thing.

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Owen Wilson in “Paint.” (“Paint” images courtesy of IFC Films)

Vintage Reigns

Though pink is certainly the backbone of Barbiecore, the underlying aesthetic is one that can be seen in both Paint and Asteroid City: Vintage reigns. We’ve welcomed back golf polos and tennis skirts, crisp button-downs and bell-bottom jeans, fringe jackets, Peter Pan collars, paisley, and lots and lots of crochet. It’s the absence of flashy designer items and the resurgence of understated coolness. Thrifting has become the way that in-the-know kids are shopping. A label-less camel leather blazer à la Carl Nargle will likely make its rounds on It Girls this fall.

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Writer/director Wes Anderson on the set of “Asteroid City.” (“Asteroid City” images courtesy of Roger Do Minh/Pop. 87 Productions/Focus Features)

Many of these ensembles have found their home in a tranquil corner of TikTok, where cotton-candy-tinged worlds and preppy accessories coalesce alongside the hashtag #WesAndersonTrend. With the emblematic instrumental song “Obituary” from Anderson’s The French Dispatch as the soundtrack, creators seek to imitate the director’s quirky and dreamlike vision via title cards, wide lens shots, quick cuts, and symmetrical framing, all while going about their usual to-dos with panache: having lunch, loading the laundry, or riding the train to work. Magazine write-ups have offered not only tutorials on how to shoot an iPhone pastiche of the auteur but also guides on how to dress like an Anderson character, with oxford shoes a recurring item.

It seems movie studios are tending to our stylistic and nostalgic cravings, with such productions in the works as Lena Dunham’s Polly Pocket, Ryan Murphy’s Feud: Capote’s Women, and a potential American Girl movie announced. So, lucky us: We’ll continue to play dress-up.

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