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London's Barbie Exhibition will feature 'rare' dolls and iconic outfits worn by Margot Robbie and Billie Eilish

Margot Robbie plays Barbie in pink gingham dress
Margot Robbie plays Barbie in pink gingham dress

Margot Robbie’s first outfit in Barbie the movie - a black and white swimsuit accessorised with a pair of Perspex sunglasses - is a replica of the first-ever Barbie, manufactured by Mattel in 1959.

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This rare first edition, known by collectors as the ‘Number 1 Barbie’ will star alongside 180 'rare, unique and innovative' dolls at Barbie: The Exhibition - a major showcase at the Design Museum in Kensington this year.

Margot Robbie as Barbie in black and white swimsuit
Margot Robbie wearing the first edition swimsuit in the Barbie movie (Warner Bros. Pictures)

Speaking on the exhibition, curator Danielle Thom said, “This is as much a fashion exhibition as a design one,” referring to the rich content in Barbie’s fashion choices over the years.

When does the Barbie Exhibition open?

The exhibition will be available to view from July 5, 2024 until February 23, 2025.

Why is Barbie a fashion icon?

Barbie, often regarded as the world’s first influencer, has ‘collaborated’ with plenty of fashion designers during her illustrious history, including Christian Dior, Zac Posen and Oscar de la Renta. The latter marked her initial venture into high fashion, as the Dominican designer crafted a bespoke look for her in 1985.

It’s a testament to Barbie’s enduring relevance, that even after 65 years of plastic pink power, Billie Eilish chose to reimagine her 1965 Poodle Parade look, by wearing a life-size replica when she performed at the 2024 Grammy Awards, this month.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 04: Billie Eilish performs onstage during the 66th GRAMMY Awards at Crypto.com Arena on February 04, 2024 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images for The Recording Academy )
Billie Eilish's Grammy performance look (Getty)
Barbie Parada Poodle - 1965
Barbie Parada Poodle - 1965

Like any fashion muse, Barbie has changed with the times. A 70s best-seller was the ‘surfer girl’ Sunset Malibu Barbie. Day to Night Barbie, circa 1985, was an homage to the 80s working girl - her pink suit transforms into a body-conscious evening gown.

And the best-seller of all time is Totally Hair Barbie, which was released in 1992 and sold over 10 million globally. Joining those will be Talking Barbie, which launched in 1968 - her voice is activated by a pull-string.

Margot Robbie during a photocall at the Four Seasons Hotel in Mexico City
Margot Robbie replicated the best-selling 'Totally Hair Barbie' look during the movie press tour (Hector Vivas)

Staying true to cultural shifts, the Barbie universe has taken note of evolving shifts in diversity and representation. Joining the exhibition will be the first black, Hispanic and Asian Barbie; the first Barbie to use a wheelchair and have Down syndrome; as well as Barbies with a curvier body type.

A Barbie exhibition would, of course, not be complete without Ken - with a collection of six decades of her side-kick since his introduction in 1961. Also, expect friends Midge, Christie and Teresa, and Barbie’s younger sister, Skipper.