Stylist Shiona Turini Collaborates With Barbie Doll To Celebrate African Beauty
Shiona Turini’s history with Barbie dolls is similar to that of many black women. Store shelves would be brimming with Barbie dolls in a range of different hair color shades—blonde, brunette, red, black, etc.—but when it came to complexion shades, options were few and far between. Then, in 1980, Turini’s sigh of relief came in the form of a black Barbie with an afro, clad in a fire red dress with gold accessories. Now, the former fashion editor and costume designer is making her own Barbie history by collaborating with Barbie Style to produce a a diverse collection of black dolls in honor of Black History Month.
“It was important for me to reflect Barbie as an icon through the lens of black culture during Black History Month,” Turini said in a statement. “I drew inspiration from the first black Barbie, who debuted her all-red look in 1980.
My vision was to style diverse dolls in bold looks with themes seen throughout my work, like contrasting snakeskin and leopard challenging traditional uniformity.”
Turini’s four-pronged collection showcases the versatility of black beauty and features 10 models of different skin tones and sizes, including a doll in a wheelchair, in various color palettes, including soft sherbet colors, all black, brown mixed with snakeskin, and red, the latter inspired by and featuring the first black Barbie doll.
The creative mind behind the movie “Queen & Slim” has designed Barbie’s latest looks, in honor of Black History Month.
Mattel worked with costume designer Shiona Turini to outfit a set of Barbies in 10 different hair styles, skin tones and body types.
“Thank you @barbiestyle — for collaborating with me to create Barbies with braids, finger waves and everything in between,” Turini writes in an Instagram caption announcing the collaboration. “Chicks by the layers, all different flavors. And even a curvy doll, in a crop top, with waist length twists. Baby Shiona is PROUD.”
Each look for the Barbies was inspired by three color themes: monochromatic, snakeskin mixed with black and white and sherbet colors. Though the outfits themselves aren’t for sale, the dolls modeling them are part of a new release of Black History Month Barbie dolls.
“My vision was to style diverse dolls in bold looks with themes seen throughout my work, like contrasting snakeskin and leopard, challenging traditional uniformity,” says Turini, while adding that she spent many childhood hours dressing Barbies.
“I grew up obsessed with @barbie and while she was one of my first fashion icons, I clearly remember searching shelves for a doll that looked like me and coming up empty handed,” she writes on Instagram.
Turini drew her inspiration from the first black Barbie, introduced in 1980 dressed in a sparkling red dress with an Afro. Turini’s red collection pays homage to the doll. Mattel has also brought back that first black Barbie, dressed in bold red as a 40th anniversary black Barbie doll.
Lately, Mattel has been releasing a gamut of diverse dolls in different sizes, colors, abilities and professions to keep up with the times. Recent additions include the gender-neutral doll, the Barbie Fashionistas line, the Barbie Wellness collection and Judge Barbie.
On Instagram, Turini points out that she is “the curvy Barbie in the crop top,” which is the fourth from the left. “Thank you @barbiestyle for making my childhood dreams come true, customizing these @queenandslim inspired snake skin boots + bodysuits, going thru the painstaking process of giving Barbie twists and allowing me the freedom to create something special so that my community can see themselves represented in such an iconic brand,” she writes on Instagram. “Life is good in the dream house.”
In the red collection, you can clearly see Turini’s personal style in her own red-clad outfit on Instagram, and this red collection reflects the first black Barbie who shined in red sparkles. “Here she is, on her customized throne, surrounded by friends created and styled by me. I hope other young children, and adult Barbie lovers, are as excited to see themselves reflected in these dolls as I am.”
In the “brights” collection, Turini says, “While flipping through styles a sherbet-green coat totally captured my eye. I loved it so much, I built an entire vignette around it.”
Content courtesy of Shiona Turini & Nairobi fashion hub